Imagine spending Christmas alone.
That’s what local Canadian Mental Health Association’s education and marketing coordinator calls “exaggerated isolation.” Many of their clients face it every day. At Christmas it just hits home harder.
The CMHA’s Gift of Hope campaign, which is celebrating its 20th year in Prince George this year, helps to counteract feelings of extreme isolation by bringing holiday cheer into the lives of CMHA clients, said Scott Whyte.
“This is an opportunity for people in Prince George to donate unwrapped gift items to our hampers that go to people in the city living with mental illness. Many of them wouldn’t get a Christmas present because they are either without family or forgotten by family,” he said.
There are now hampers set up in 18 locations around the city including the YMCA, Wal-Mart, Reids Prescriptions, CIBC, London Drugs, Spruce Credit Union, Shoppers at Pine Centre and Spruceland, Royal Bank, the CMHA office at 555 George, the Health Unit, Hart Drugs, People’s Drugmart, Canadian Tire, Northern Hardware, TD Band and Home Hardware.
Some gift suggestions are gloves, scarves, shirts, sewing kits, toiletries, games, art supplies, mugs, books or notebooks. All donations must be unwrapped. The CMHA will deliver the gifts to clients at a dinner and dance on December 19 that is a private event for clients and family members.
“We also make deliveries to people who are shut in at the hospital and can’t make it. Hampers are out around town now and donations can be made right up until December 19,” said Whyte.
CMHA member and advocate John Flatt said it is rewarding to see the smiles on clients’ faces when they’ve been given a gift.
“It lets them know they’ve been thought of and then they know they’re not alone,” he said.
Last year Gift of Hope was able to serve 200 clients and collected over 250 gifts. For more information or for opportunities to donate door prizes at the CMHA dinner and dance call Scott Whyte at 564-8644 local 28.