Caring Neighbours

Bringing comfort and joy to families and seniors in New Westminster

This Christmas, Family Services is working with Santa to lend helping hand to New West families and seniors in need.

The Caring Neighbours Program, formerly Adopt-a-Family, matches families and seniors with community members at Christmas. This year’s campaign started with a barbecue held at Caps Bicycle Shop in New West and featured a visit from the jolly man himself.

Last year, Family Services took over the Adopt-a-Family program after Fraserside Community Services, which had previously managed the program, were unable to oversee it any longer.

There was incredible support and Family Services was able to provide help to 105 families and a total of 379 people (219 children).

“It’s a common misconception that the people we help are on social assistance, but we found that most of the families were unemployed or underemployed and couldn’t afford to buy Christmas gifts,” says Heather Scott, director of development at Family Services.

Last year, a total of 83 sponsors and donors participated in the program (38 businesses; 19 families, 12 groups, and 14 individuals). Of those, 61 sponsors adopted 76 families and 22 sponsors donated money totaling $9.795.00.

The program distributed $8,700.00 in gift cards which leaves $1,095.00 on hand to start the program this year. Family Services was able to accommodate every eligible family on the waiting list.

“We were honoured to be a part of the ‘Adopt-A-Family’ Program and really see it as an opportunity to work together as a team and give back to the community in a small way,” said residents of Thornebridge Gardens Retirement Community, one of the sponsoring groups.
“We believe that every little act of kindness goes a long way when combined with love.”

To raise funds, their staff held a bake sale, senior residents gave donations, and staff volunteered to shop for groceries and presents and deliver them to the family.

Another change this year is the inclusion of seniors, many of whom are experience poverty and/or social isolation.

“Last year, our focus was on families,” says Tulia Castellanos, director of community engagement.

“We found however, that seniors needed help too and that’s why we expanded the program.”

One family who received gifts through this program wrote, “Thank you for your support… my daughter is very happy. Our Christmas was very special. We [will] never forget you. Thank you.”