(*client has requested that her name be changed to protect her privacy.)

Maria hadn’t anticipated being in this situation. “You know when you’re in the store and a cashier asks if you’re willing to donate a couple dollars?” says Maria. “You say, ‘oh sure,’ and you never think that someday you might be the one who will need the help.”

Maria and her family of seven came to Canada from Ukraine only a couple years earlier. They hadn’t planned to leave, especially not with their limited understanding of English, but an armed conflict near their hometown forced them to make the move. To make matters more complicated, Maria was pregnant with twins at the time.

With her older children pitching in to help with the household expenses by taking on part-time jobs, Maria and her husband were able to make ends meet—that is, until 2016. “I worked all my life as a teacher in Ukraine,” says Maria. “I didn’t have a big salary, but we knew how to save money so we had no problems.” However, for her family, and many others in our community, the economic downturn took its toll. At the end of September of 2016, Maria’s husband lost his job.

Faced with mounting bills, and Christmas just around the corner, Maria and her husband didn’t know what to do. “My twins’ godmother advised me to call you to register my kids for some support for the holiday. I knew about the Christmas Bureau since 2014, but I thought that there are lots of people who need your help more.”

Maria applied to the Christmas Bureau and in turn received gifts for her children from 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, gifts for her teens from the Adopt-A-Teen program, and a grocery gift card from the Christmas Bureau.

“We bought meat, milk, cheese, oats, fruits and vegetables, juice, and tea. We celebrated Christmas with meat, prepared French-style, with cheese and salad and, of course, a cake!”

Maria wanted to extend her thanks to those that contribute to the Christmas Bureau to help families like hers. Unfortunately, families like Maria’s are not rare—there are many people in our community that end up in desperate situations due to factors beyond their control. The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to help. Visit our Ways to Help section to learn more about all the ways that you can support a family in need at Christmas.

Many Great Ways to Help