May 23, 2024

Now in its fiftieth yr, SHARE helps 22,000 folks within the Tri-Cities space.

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When Claire MacLean, SHARE Household & Group Providers government director, says that the group’s toy store is run “like a army operation,” she’s not kidding.

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“We’ve obtained individuals who have been doing this for many years,” she mentioned. “It’s actually beautiful to see them take newer volunteers beneath their wing and stroll them by means of how issues are completed.”

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Now in its fiftieth yr, SHARE helps 22,000 folks within the Tri-Cities space, together with Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra, and New Westminster, by means of its year-round meals financial institution and vacation hamper and toy store packages. The group grew out of a kids’s clothes change in Gertie Grosser’s basement. The Coquitlam resident died in 2020.

Final yr, the group offered toys/items to over 1,100 kids from 0 to 17 years of age and gave out over 820 vacation meals hampers. Donations to The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund assist make the help potential.

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Considered one of SHARE’s longtime meals financial institution and toy store volunteers, Jan Richen is a Burnaby resident who has been with the non-profit for almost 20 years.

“Yep, the foundations don’t change,” mentioned Richen when requested concerning the militarization of the toy store. “We’ve obtained it all the way down to a science now. No person must ask anyone something. Everyone knows what we’re doing.”

The volunteers bundle up about $50 value of donated toys into plastic baggage. Dad and mom can select a bag for every baby relying on their pursuits.

As with different bureaus, discovering toys for older children is an issue.

“When folks need to purchase a present, they consider a cute little five-year-old,” Richen mentioned. “No person thinks concerning the teen.”

As a substitute of attempting to anticipate the needs of this notoriously troublesome cohort, SHARE supplies present playing cards for the native mall.

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The SHARE shoppers that Richen sees are grateful for the assistance.

“There’ve been a couple of those that are available they usually simply are sobbing and saying, ‘My kids wouldn’t have Christmas if it wasn’t for you. You do such a fantastic job.’ ”

Over time, SHARE has welcomed extra newcomers to Canada.

“A number of our persons are refugees who’ve simply come from a camp someplace and been dropped off right here they usually actually don’t have any concept what’s happening,” Richen mentioned. “So it’s type of a whirlwind for them. They’re actually grateful. You realize that you just’re giving children a Christmas. That’s the rationale for doing it.”

“The Tri-Cities space has one of many largest rising populations of newcomers throughout the province,” MacLean mentioned. “Total, our meals financial institution numbers are up 50 per cent from the identical time final yr. A few of these further shoppers are newcomers and refugees, however they’re additionally folks which are from the world and are additionally needing further assist.”

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She anticipates a better want this yr for SHARE’s vacation meals financial institution providers: “We’re centered on giving folks as a lot selection as potential and provides them as a lot dignity within the course of as we will.”

Together with offering prepacked hampers, “we now give attention to a purchasing mannequin the place folks choose the objects which are most acceptable for his or her tradition and their household. After which we additionally present present playing cards in order that they will use them at an area grocery retailer to pick out the objects which are most helpful to them.”

And this yr, SHARE is once more co-sponsoring a Christmas tree and toy donation program with the Coquitlam Centre, one thing it wasn’t been capable of do due to COVID-19.

Richen missed 2020 due to the pandemic however the 77-year-old was again at slinging toys in 2021.

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“It’s numerous enjoyable as a result of it’s the identical group of women that I’ve been doing it with all these years,” she mentioned. “We simply actually take pleasure in it.”

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