We are in our 11th year of the Holiday Hero program and the mission remains the same: giving to young people through the York Region Children’s Aid Society (CAS).
Today was the first fundraising venture in support of our push to make the holidays brighter for youth in care of the CAS. Students, faculty, and staff celebrated their first casual dress day of the school year, with proceeds from the sale of wristbands going to support Holiday Hero.
“This is a good way for our boys to relate because these people are very close to their age. In fact it could be them, if not for happenstance,” Holiday Hero coordinator Melissa Tackaberry says.
Each Advisory group will chose a particular young person to support, and faculty, staff, and SAC families can also be provided with names if requested. All gifts are wrapped by faculty, staff, and students and then distributed by the CAS workers to the youth, most of them between the ages of 15 and 21 for whom the CAS is their legal guardian. These young people live on their own, in group homes, or are away at school and don't have family to rely on throughout the year. As such, they don't have a normal holiday like most of us enjoy.
Of the more than 130 profiles given to SAC, items requested range from bedding, groceries, and kitchen items to winter coats, gloves, and boots. While we pledge to meet the needs of the youth in care of the CAS, we also aim to provide a few “wants” as well.
Anything a boy might add to his wish list is likely to bring joy to one of the youth we are supporting, so parents are encouraged to add a couple of items to the cart for donation to Holiday Hero. Unwrapped gifts are due to Advisory groups by Monday, Nov. 21. Parents are welcome to drop off unwrapped items at Reception or contact Melissa for a specific young person to support.
In the meantime, boarding students will head out Thursday, Nov. 16 for a shopping trip to purchase items from the lists provided by our adopted youth.
In the first 10 years of the program, the SAC community raised more than $1.5 million to assist approximately 2,000 local families and youth in need. This is the second year the Holiday Hero program is focusing on youth, and the families we previously supported will now be provided for by the Salvation Army.
Anyone wishing to “adopt” a young person can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and request to view profiles for the youth that provide information on their past, their immediate needs, and their plans for the future.