For over 11 years, Closer to Home’s annual Adopt-a-Family initiative has helped vulnerable families throughout Calgary and area purchase food, basic necessities, gifts, toys and even winter clothing during the year-end holiday time. This initiative is vital for many families, eliminating the burden of choosing to pay for utilities or putting food on the table.
Adopt-a-Family is near and dear to all of us at Closer to Home and our community — especially our generous donors that support our families every year. We all feel a special connection at this time of the year because we care deeply about those we serve and want to ensure families can have a healthy and joyful holiday season.
Thanks to our donors, sponsors, volunteers, and all our staff teams, in 2021 we served more families in need than ever before. And we know that families who need support beyond Adopt-a-Family initiative can find services and resources they need year-round through our North Central Family Resource Network.
We asked our frontline Practitioners for their perspective on Adopt-a-Family, and what it means to them each and every year:
You may wonder — what do we know about the families registered for Adopt-a-Family?
A: Each family is different and experiencing various circumstances. You can have a family that never needed help before but this year the main breadwinner was laid off, meaning they don’t have extra money to spend on the holiday season. Some families have health concerns, which may lead them to need additional support for their kids during the holidays – and in some cases, this might be their last holiday with their family.
Last year we adopted a 29-year-old woman who had breast cancer, and sadly, her child was also experiencing difficult health circumstances. Because of Adopt-a-Family, this mom was able to provide a joyful holiday for her child while they were in the hospital. Sadly, it was both mom and child’s last Christmas, as they both passed away in the new year.
This initiative also sees families get involved with Closer to Home once they are back on their feet – and in some cases, those families become donors as they want to give back for the support they once needed, and they know how big an impact it can make in a family’s life.
Our adopted families can include new Canadians, refugees, students or on work visas, low-income families, single parents, guardians, families going through loss, and many more – we want to help as many families as we can to stay housed, safe and healthy, especially through the holidays.
Does Closer to Home provide support to families who need it all year round?
A: Yes! Families receive support for the holiday season and this initiative allows our staff to connect with families afterwards. Once families are registered for Adopt-a-Family, we invite the kids, parents and caregivers to learn more about our programs and services to see if we can provide additional support—and most families do participate in our regular year-round programs.
In fact, about 70% of families participating in Adopt-a-Family each year access additional support from Closer to Home after the holiday season, and register in many of our year-round programs.
Kids, families and communities are at the heart of what we do and why we do it. We know that sometimes, everyone needs a little help – and we want to be there when families need it most, which is why our practitioners, staff, and community genuinely love this initiative.
“After a long day of work, when we get to deliver packages (even in heavy snow storms), it’s always worth seeing how grateful a family is when you give them their gift card package. On-the-spot, parents or caregivers let you know how much this means to their family and are blown away by the generosity of donors — it means the world to them.”