Tis’ the season to help those less fortunate. With Christmas just around the corner, the Canadian Web Hosting team went to spread some holiday cheer at Union Gospel Mission. UGM is a charitable foundation that provides food, shelter, and services to those in need in Metro Vancouver. Canadian Web Hosting has been volunteering with the organization for many years.
Every Christmas, UGM delivers Christmas Hampers to low-income families. Families create a wishlist of the items their members need and the items are then donated by local businesses, organizations, and churches. CWH helped with this Christmas Hamper program previously.
This year, UGM decided to update their Christmas Hamper program by giving families the opportunity to come to Union Gospel Mission themselves and pick out gifts for their family, rather than having strangers pick the gifts. This way, parents are restored their dignity, as they are the ones selecting gifts and bringing them home to their families. Parents are also empowered to give back by volunteering or attending a financial workshop at UGM.
UGM transformed their chapel into a Christmas “store” complete with toys, books, clothes, kitchenware, hygiene products, and even sporting goods. Parents were accompanied around the store with a personal shopper who would give suggestions and make them feel comfortable.
The CWH team volunteered on December 19 and 20, 2017 and our roles included wrapping gifts, stocking shelves, keeping the store organized, helping pick out gifts, and accompanying parents in the ride home afterward. UGM was very grateful for our help and Jessica Ansari, one of UGM’s senior staff members said, “the program could not have run without your help. Everything we do at UGM aims at building a community of people. We know that the strength, authenticity, and diversity of that community can be the difference in someone’s journey out of poverty and addiction. For our guests to feel seen and known, to feel like someone believes in them and sees value in them, to see others who are farther along the journey than themselves, and to have practical options available when they feel ready to take a step – those are the difference makers!” These kind words are exactly what drives us to keep volunteering at UGM.
Check out the experiences of our volunteers below.
Kings Wong, VP of Operations
“I helped out with a little bit of everything, including delivery, stock, and wrapping. There was one family in particular that stood out to me. The parent had a very large family and she was hesitant in accepting so many gifts on behalf of her family, but UGM made sure she went home with something for all of her children. The dedication the volunteers put into making sure she had gifts for every child, and giving her a ride home after with all of the gifts was heartwarming.”
Hadir El-Maghraby, Human Resources and Operations
“It was a different experience this year at UGM. I felt that our participation had more influence than previous years. We helped people in choosing their gifts, made suggestions, wrapped gifts, and delivered them to their homes. When I was wrapping the gifts, I kept thinking about the smile on the family member’s face when they would open the gift. I am glad I was a part of making someone happy”.
Adelina, Marketing Lead
“I had a wonderful time helping out with the Christmas hampers at UGM this year. As a self-proclaimed present wrapping extraordinaire, I nominated myself for the wrapping station. From wrapping basketballs and books to socks and sweaters, it was fun to pretend to be one of Santa’s elves while easing the burden on many families. Everyone that came through was incredibly gracious, and to be a little part of their holiday joy was heartwarming.”
Karolina Kapusta, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator
“This was my first time volunteering at UGM and it was a really good experience. My role was stocking shelves in the “store,” as well as keeping the store tidy. I ended up being a personal shopper for some of the families and it was fun helping pick out toys for children and watching families get the items they needed. One of the first parents I helped received a bike for their five-year-old son and watching the mother’s eyes fill with tears, made my own eyes tear up in happiness for her.”
Josselyn Rodriguez, Customer Experience Manager
“This year was a different experience and I really liked it. The parents were the ones picking out the gifts and bringing home happiness to their children. I had fun wrapping the presents and taking that load off from the parents, as well as making the gifts a surprise for the kids.”
Theodore Chu, Customer Experience Team
“This was my first time volunteering at UGM, and the staff was very accommodating. Every member was really dedicated to providing the best to those that come in, which was really nice to see, especially during the holidays. I look forward to my next time volunteering!”