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Calgary charity looks for donors to adopt a family

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There are 635 families registered for Closer to Home Community Services' Adopt-A-Family program and more than half of them still need to be adopted for the holiday season.

Sarah Anne Taylor, the agency's senior manager of philanthropy, says families are counting on an influx of generosity and donations to come in so they can celebrate Christmas this year.

"But then on top of that we have 250 families that are on the waitlist," she said. "We've actually had to halt our registration because of that and we can't accept any more families onto the list, we need to address the ones that we currently have."

The Adopt-a-Family campaign has been a vital pillar of community support for 13 years.

Families are given gift cards so parents and caregivers can purchase vital necessities like warm winter clothing, socks or groceries.

This way, more money can be put towards utilities and rent or purchase warm winter clothing for their growing kids.

"Calgary is experiencing a housing crisis, families cannot afford a safe place to live, they are struggling to put healthy food choices on the table due to inflation and on top of this, the holiday season is coming up, providing an extra stressor for families," said Karen Olivier, CEO of Closer to Home.

"Every day, we hear stories about families and their need for support—whether financially, skill building, or seeking safe shelter for their family, with Adopt-a-Family, we aim to ensure every family is supported and cared for, now and in the future."

Taylor says families who're registered with the program receive gift cards of $125 per person in the household so an average family of four would receive $500, which will make a difference on a trip to the grocery store.

"There's a lot of individuals who necessarily didn't consider themselves low income or at risk are and realizing that they were more vulnerable than they thought," said Taylor.

"So many people aren't able to plan out as many weeks or months in advance for costs or having that reserve for when things happen, like your car has a flat tire, your child gets sick, you lose your job, there are just so many unknowns out there right now.

"This gift of aid can really make all the difference in creating and bringing that little bit of magic and you know, brighten their season."

Chyeanne Eagle Bear made it on to the Adopt-A-Family list and is looking forward to a merry Christmas, not only with her youngest two sons Adrien and Alister, but also her other children living in Lethbridge.

"It makes a big difference like from having all my income going to paying bills, I probably have $30 left to budget for the remainder of the month," she said. "Just utilities alone this month was $313 and that's the highest it's been since I've been here."

Eagle Bear says this is the first Christmas she'll have with all her kids in four years and she's excited to cook for them.

"Like a nice warm diner, home cooked, a gift for each and every one of them, just family time, togetherness," she said.

"It really makes the heart feel warm and just not such a struggle, kids look forward to Santa, those surprises every year and for it to happen, it's just so amazing."

Taylor says the deadline to donate is Dec. 15, but the charity is extending it to make sure as many families as possible are helped before Christmas.

She says donors don't have to adopt an entire family if they can't afford it, but any amount makes a difference.

"The generous donations that people have been able to give us whether that's $50, $70, or five dollars, whatever it is that you're able to give so that we can continue to get those families adopted," she said.

"Our goal is to ensure that all families and kiddos are living in a family dynamic and home that safe, stable and healthy for everyone, where everyone can thrive."

You can learn more about Adopt-A-Family here.

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