It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some folks, but for others it’s a time of great need.
It’s also a time of year when many people are looking for ways to help others in the community. The Record has published its annual Guide to Giving every December since 1996 in an effort to connect community members to some of the local non-profit groups helping to make New Westminster a great place to live for all of its citizens.
Here are some of the local organizations in need of your support at Christmas – and beyond.
Arts Council of New Westminster
What it does:The Arts Council of New Westminster is a registered charitable organization that works to make the arts essential and accessible in our city and to deliver programs that build community and facilitate cross-cultural understanding. It offers a wide variety of free outdoor and indoor arts activities, including Music by the River, New West Craft, ArtsToGo workshops, Uptown Unplugged, The Gallery at Queen's Park and more. In 2019 the ACNW presented 336 diverse artists in events that welcomed 144,000 guests in New Westminster.
Christmas wish list:The arts council encourages people to give the experience of arts and culture this holiday season: a $25 gift will send five children to an ArtsToGo arts workshop; a $50 donation will sponsor a local artist’s or group's exhibition in The Gallery at Queen’s Park; a $100 gift will support its original music programming at annual events like Music By the River; and a $250 donation will support the Hilda Cliffe Scholarship Fund, an annual arts award that recognizes the talent of a New Westminster Secondary School arts student. Along with financial donations, the arts council welcomes volunteers to assist with its programs or to join its board of directors.
Contact:Stephen O'Shea, executive director, at 604-525-3244 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or make online donations at acnw.ca/donate.
Aunt Leah’s Place
What it does: For over 30 years, Aunt Leah’s Place has been helping to prevent children in foster care from becoming homeless when they age out of the system and lose government support and helping to prevent mothers in need from losing custody of their children. Aunt Leah’s approach involves providing family-like support that includes housing, food security, life skills, education support, employment training and emotional care – a model that’s been shown to stop the cycle of homelessness and to reduce the number of children entering into the foster care system.
Christmas wish list: You can help Aunt Leah’s by purchasing a Christmas tree from one of its Christmas tree lots in the Lower Mainland, including Burnaby and Coquitlam, or by making a donation directly through its website. For youths and moms, donations of socks, gloves, toques and warm coats are always needed. Some of the most requested items on their wish list are new hoodies (sizes 12 and up) and backpacks, as well as gift cards (grocery stores, movies, entry passes to Christmas events, restaurants or coffee places, Visa).
Contact: Tree lot information at www.auntleahs.org/trees. For donations, contact Dumi Owane at 604-525-1204 (extension 251) or go online at https://auntleahs.org/donate/.
What it does: In addition to offering all sorts of great programs and classes for folks aged 50 and up, Century House offers two free programs that provide emotional support to local seniors. Senior Peer Counsellors are dedicated, trained volunteers who support people through life transitions such bereavement, loss of friends or health, as well as caregivers who need to talk to an empathetic listener. Volunteer Visitors are available to meet with New West seniors who are feeling lonely or isolated, offering conversation and companionship at meetings that can take place in seniors’ home or at Century House.
Christmas wish list: Both of these programs rely mostly on private donations. If you would like to donate to support these programs call 604-519-1066 or go directly to the Century House Association website – www.centuryhouseassociation.com, click on the donate now button, then select Senior Peer Counselling under the Fund section.
Contact: Century House at 604-519-1066 or 620 Eighth St.
Family Services of Greater Vancouver
What it does: Year-round, Family Services of Greater Vancouver works to build stronger families, support youth in overcoming homelessness, end violence against women, children and seniors and develop more inclusive communities through a wide variety of programs. Each December, it offers the Caring Neighbours Holiday Campaign, which matches individuals, families or organizations with those in need of gifts and food for the holidays.
Christmas wish list: Family Services has already matched about 96 families through this year’s Caring Neighbours Holiday Campaign, but still needs about 17 more sponsors, as it still hopes to help about three two-member families, four three-member families, two four-member families, four five-member families, one seven-member family and four seniors. People can sponsor a family by shopping for them and delivering presents themselves, or they can donate money and Family Services will buy presents and gift cards for food and other necessities for the needy families.
Contact: email@example.com or visit https://www.caringneighbours.ca/new-westminster-form-donation.
Fraserside Community Services Society
What it does: Fraserside Community Services Society has been supporting people in need of housing; seeking work; living with developmental disabilities, mental- health or substance-use issues; and low income in the community for nearly 50 years. It provides a variety of essential social services, including one of only two family emergency shelters in B.C. for parents, women and children, supported employment services for adults living with developmental disabilities, and counselling programs helping people resolve issues of substance abuse. Last year, Fraserside helped 1,851 people in the community.
Christmas wish list: Fraserside welcomes cash donations toward supporting people in the community with housing, employment opportunities and social supports. It’s always looking for volunteers and is currently looking for a new board member to fill the role of treasurer.
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-522-3722 ext. 111or visit www.fraserside.bc.ca.
What it does: Stories of homeless people in the community are posted at www.homelesspartners.com so community members can read them and donate items to make their Christmas merrier. While people are celebrating with their families, Christmas can be a sad and lonely time for those who are on the street or struggling.
Christmas wish list: Visit the website and check out the stories of homeless folks in the community, including several sites in New West – the Cliff Block, the Russell residence, shelter and outreach programs and Rhoda Kaellis Residence. You can read through the personal stories of people in need in New West, select a person to support, and wrap and drop off packages at the shelter location of your choice.
Contact: Go to www.homelesspartners.com and go to Stories (under How it Works) and then New Westminster.
What it does: Since September 2011, Honour House has been providing a free-of-charge, temporary “home away from home” for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and emergency services personnel and their families as they travel to receive medical care and treatment in Metro Vancouver. Honour House, which has provided almost 10,000 nights of free accommodation for men and women in uniform and their families, is run almost entirely by volunteers from New West and the surrounding area.
Christmas wish list: Financial donations, volunteers, new items such as gardening tools, maintenance tools, cleaning products, kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies, video games and children’s toys.
Contact: Craig Longstaff, general manager, at 778-397-4399. Donations can be mailed to Honour House Society, 509 St. George St., New Westminster, B.C., V3L 1L1. More info at www.honourhouse.ca.
IMPACT Parkinson Society
What it does: IMPACT Parkinson’s was created to make an impact on the quality of life for people living with and fighting back against Parkinson’s, and their families and friends, by offering programs that focus on mind, body and soul to help create a happy, healthier life.
Christmas wish list: This non-profit society relies on volunteers and community partners to support its programs. It currently needs volunteers in the main exercise program, Rock Steady Boxing New West, which runs classes Monday to Friday before lunch. It is also in need of one to three local businesses or individuals to become significant community partners.
Contact: Phone 604-525-2631, email email@example.com or go to www.impactparkinsons.com. IMPACT Parkinson’s is also found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families
What it does: The Lower Mainland Purpose Society is a non-profit, community-based, multi-service organization that delivers a continuum of programs to children, youth and families. Now in its 27th year, the annual Christmas Hamper program will provide items to more than 110 families in the New Westminster, Burnaby and the Tri-Cities and will gift 100 bags of necessities and goodies to the society’s low-income and homeless clients.
Christmas wish list: Purpose appreciates financial donations, gift bag items (such as toiletries, socks, mittens or non-perishable food items) and volunteers to help with the door-to-door delivery of the hampers.
Contact: To take part in this year’s hamper program, contact hamper coordinator Pam Bloom at 604-937-7163 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ashley at Purpose Society’s head office at 604-526-2522. Financial donations can be made at 604-526-2522 or online at www.purposesociety.org.
New West Artists
What it does: NWA is a non-profit organization managing the New West Artists Gallery on 12th, which is at 712C 12th St. and is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. It’s committed to encouraging and enhancing the growth of a vibrant arts community and offers non-juried, inclusive exhibitions for local emerging artists to showcase their art in an affordable, accessible space.
Christmas wish list:Send donations by e-transfer to email@example.com, get more info at newwestartists.com/financial-gifts-to-nwa/ and become a supporting member at newwestartists.com/membership-2019/.
New Westminster Family Place
What it does: New Westminster Family Place, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019, offers drop-in programs at sites around New West where kids aged zero to five can enjoy playtime, art, songs, stories and snacks. It’s also a place where parents can have fun with their children, meet other parents, participate in parenting workshops and learn about other resources in the community.
Christmas wish list: Diapers sized 4 to 6, apple juice, Cheerios and Shreddies, coffee and tea and items, including toys and games, from its Amazon wish list www.amazon.ca/gp/registry/wishlist/3B1AOVP0M00R1.
New Westminster Firefighters’ Charitable Society
What it does: Members of New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services help out a variety of local charities that assist individual and families by having fundraisers such as the annual Christmas tree chipping, shred-athon, Canucks Alumni charity hockey game and other events. Firefighters volunteer their time at these event to support for community organizations that help those who are in need.
Christmas wish list: The New Westminster Firefighters’ Charitable Society is collecting new unwrapped toys, non-perishable food items and donations that will be distributed within New Westminster.
Contact: Gifts can be dropped off at the Glenbrook Fire Hall at 1 East Sixth Ave. or at the Santa Larry Toy Drive at Royal City Centre, where they will be picked up and dispersed to local organizations. Community members can also drop by the New Westminster Firefighters’ Charitable Society’s annual tree-chipping event on Jan. 4 and 5 at the Canada Games Pool parking lot. Call 604-519-1000.
Seniors Services Society
What it does: The New West-based Seniors Services Society provides a wide range of programs and services including Meals on Wheels, grocery ordering, support calls, an annual tax clinic and more. Each December, it offers the Santa for Seniors program, which provides Christmas presents to about 150 seniors who may be isolated or alone over the holidays.
Christmas wish list: Along with financial donations, volunteers are always welcome for various programs, including drivers for seniors’ transportation and Meals on Wheels programs. To support the Santa for Seniors program, drop by London Drugs (555 Sixth St.), Your Dollar Store with More (811 Carnarvon St.) or Save-on-Foods in Sapperton (270 East Columbia St.) by Dec. 13 (tomorrow) and take an ornament from one of the trees, purchase the requested item(s) and leave the unwrapped gifts at the customer service desk.
Contact: Call 604-520-6621 or go to www.seniorsservicessociety.ca.
Westminster House Society
What it does: For 39 years, Westminster House has been offering long-term residential treatment for women and youth who are recovering from addictions.
Christmas wish list: Donations (for 40 clients) of pyjamas (assorted sizes from small to extra large), socks, gloves, umbrellas, Starbucks gift cards, journals, assorted jewelry items, makeup items/nail polish/ face masks. Financial donations are always appreciated.
Contact: Kaley at 604-524-5633 or send donations to Westminster House, 228 Seventh St., New Westminster, V3M 3K3.