A Union Gospel Christmas: Three Ways to Meet the Growing Needs This Season

Dec 23, 2008 12:12 PM EST

Union Gospel Mission is one of many charities bracing itself in the wake of a brewing economic crisis. Like most charities, Union Gospel Mission receives over half of its annual funding during the holiday season. The coming months will indicate just how badly Vancouver’s poorest are being hit with tough times, as the demand for services increases, and charitable donations decrease.

In this Christmas season, UGM remains committed to providing a full continuum of care by applying a three-pronged approach to meeting the growing needs of Canada’s poorest postal code: (1) launching a Christmas Catalogue of giving, (2) supplying hearty Christmas hampers to families in need and (3) serving UGM’s annual traditional Christmas dinner for over 3,000 people.

“As the global economy takes a downward turn, and expenses rise and jobs are lost, it’s the working poor who get hurt the hardest,” says Union Gospel Mission President Bill Mollard. “When you’re forced to live paycheck to paycheck, you don’t have a financial safety net. In the heart of the V6A postal code, Union Gospel Mission is well-positioned to meet the needs of this growing group until they are back on their feet. But we can’t do it alone. What’s exciting is that this Christmas season the public can get involved and see exactly how their dollars—big or small—are used to help.”

Union Gospel Mission recently unveiled its second annual Christmas Catalogue. Through it, Canadians have the opportunity to give gifts of hope on behalf of a loved one, instead of buying a present. Some of the 18 items include a cozy pack (sleeping bag, socks, and toque) for $47, warm shelter for a week for $84, or employment counselling and work wardrobe for $75. To view the complete catalogue visit: www.ugm.ca/christmas/share.aspx

Union Gospel Mission is also collecting items for Christmas hampers for over 300 families and 500 kids in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhoods. Items such as gift cards from grocery stores and department, and personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and related necessities are all helpful donations. CTV has also chosen UGM to be one of its toy drive recipients. These toys will be included in the hampers.

As is tradition, on Saturday, December 13, UGM will host its 68th annual Christmas dinner for the hungry, hurting and homeless of the Downtown Eastside. This scrumptious traditional Christmas dinner will consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and cherry pie. Planning in coordination with other service providers, Union Gospel Mission serves its Christmas meal early as to not conflict with other community meals and to maximize on opportunities available to those on the Downtown Eastside. UGM will utilize the help of over 250 volunteers to serve over 3,000 people at numerous locations.

“For anyone dealing with loss, poverty or other hardships, Christmas can be quite a difficult season,” says Mollard. “For many people, Union Gospel Mission is more than a support service; it’s a home away from home with friends who care.”

Union Gospel Mission has been reaching hungry, hurting and homeless men, women, youth and children for nearly 70 years. Through its 12 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. UGM is a proud member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

To find out how to make a difference in the lives of people affected by homelessness, poverty and addiction in Metro Vancouver, visit www.ugm.ca

[Source: Union Gospel Mission]