In a year that has seen vulnerable families and youth disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at Family and Children’s Services say that here in Niagara, efforts have been stronger than ever to ensure these individuals are well supported and will experience some well-deserved holiday cheer.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone,” said Anna Bozza, Executive Director of FACS Niagara. “The emotional and financial stress of the pandemic has been particularly hard on the families and the youth that we serve. It’s been so heart warming to see how the community has rallied around us to help provide support, especially during the holidays.”
Here are just a few of the generous community efforts supporting children, youth and families served by FACS Niagara this holiday season. Find out how you can help.
Club Roma “Christmas for the Kids” Event
A walk-through holiday event in support of FACS Niagara and Community Care. Enjoy hot chocolate and food stations, a petting zoo and COVID-friendly photos with Santa in exchange for a donation of an unwrapped, nonviolent toy for children or teens. Held December 12th outdoors or in the large pavilion on site, the event runs from 11 am to 4 pm. Call Club Roma to book your time to visit. For more information go to the Club Roma Facebook account/events.
A number of workplaces and families throughout Niagara are collecting toys, gift cards, and items for children and youth, including: Canadian Tire Financial Services, My Care Dental in Niagara Falls, Henley Dental in St. Catharines, Goodwill Niagara and the McMaster Welland Family Health Team. If your family or workplace would like to help out a family or young person in need this holiday season, please contact Dave at FACS Foundation to find out how. Just call 905-937-7731 x 3314.
Cool Yule for Youth
The Walker Family YMCA in St. Catharines continues their tradition of collecting new household and personal items for the 140 youth in the care of FACS Niagara, helping them with the transition from foster care to living independently in the community. To help them get started in their first apartment, needed items include: pots and pans, towels and bedding, toasters, kettles and other small appliances, cleaning supplies and personal items like fleece throws, socks or gloves. Please contact Ben at the Walker Family YMCA at 905-934-9622 ext. 240 for more information on how you can help.
Starbucks Angels for Kids
The Starbucks at Martindale and Hannover is inviting patrons to select an angel from their Angel Tree and to donate a new unwrapped toy or gift for that child or youth whose gender and age is indicated on the angel. Please visit 261 Martindale for more information or speak to Stephanie at Starbucks 905-688-0267.
“It appears that COVID-19 has not dampened the spirit of giving here in Niagara, if anything, it’s made it stronger,” added Darlene McDowell, President of FACS charitable Foundation. “The spirit of generosity is alive and well in Niagara.”
Support has come to the local child welfare agency in so many ways this holiday season, FACS would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to those who have reached out to families, youth and children in need making sure their holidays will be merry and bright.
Among those supporters are Ontario Power Generation who have donated funds for toys and holiday items as well as supporting families’ basic needs. Community donors have ensured that all 35 youth in FACS’ “adopt a youth” program have been sponsored to receive a care package with new household and personal items.
FACS and the Foundation continue their efforts to make the best holiday season possible for families and youth under their care. Staff have transformed their family visiting centre in Niagara Falls into a Winter Wonderland where families can visit safely with all COVID protocols in place, complete with a photo booth where festive family photos can be taken.
The Foundation continues to run their Annual Gift of Hope campaign to support Foundation funded initiatives such as summer camp, education, youth programs and emergency holiday support. To donate or for more information, please go to: https://facsniagarafoundation.org/giftofhope/ or call 905-937-7731 ext. 3314.
Serving the community since 1898, Family and Children’s Services Niagara is the Niagara region’s sole mandated child protection agency and offers a wide range of child protection and community programs including: family support, foster care and adoption services, youth programs and community supports such as the Family Counselling Centre and Child Care programs. To learn more about their important work in the community and how you can help, please visit their website at facsniagara.on.ca or follow them on social media.
Since its inception in 1999, FACS charitable Foundation has received more than $9.1 million in donations from generous individuals, corporations and organizations supporting thousands of children, youth, and families. In 2020, thirty-seven youth received education grants and COVID support to pursue post-secondary studies or training, 65 children enjoyed a COVID-safe camp experience and 110 children and youth received “Summer Smiles at Home” activity baskets, 140 youth were helped in making the transition from foster care to living independently, 50 youth will receive “Home for the Holidays” care packages and more than 250 families received emergency COVID-19 supports for food and basic needs.
To find out more or to make a donation, please visit FACS Foundation web site at www.facsniagarafoundation.org or call 905-937-7731 ext 3314