For more than a decade volunteers have been bringing bundles of stuff to hundreds of families in need around Whitehorse at Christmas — and making a second trip back to the car to get the rest.
The children who receive those gifts don’t know their parents’ full situation, nor the care and generosity of hundreds of sponsors donating funds and gifts for unknown families.
But when those kids grow up, they sense what went down.
For the past 11 years The Kinette Club of Whitehorse has organized donations for families struggling with poverty. That’s long enough for a child become an adult and communicate how much it meant to them, as a child, to receive such generosity.
Karen Shannon, president of the Kinette Club, says she has had people come up to her and introduce themselves that way. It’s the kind of thing that fuels Christmas dinners and gifts for more than 200 families, year after year.
“I’ve been in the situation where I’ve been purchasing toys for Share the Spirit and I’ve had store clerks tell me that they were a child who received Share the Spirit and how much it means to them,” Shannon says. “And we’ve received emails from people who used to receive, and said they’re doing much better now and that they’d like to sponsor a couple of children. Usually by this time we’re all totally exhausted and when I get that kind of email I send it to all of the members, saying, ‘This is why we do it, so let’s keep going.'”
It has taken a lot of work to get to this point in the season. They have collected almost all of the gifts for the families, and are now hoping for more cash donations to complete the turkey dinners for 222 families on their list this year.
The list comes from social agencies referring clients who are struggling with poverty.
On Dec. 11, 12, and 13 volunteers with the Share the Spirit program will be camped out at the old library getting together hampers of turkey dinners with cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, as well as lining up donated gifts for children. Anyone interested in donating is welcome to pop by on those days.
Shannon says she has seen the gratitude and happiness first-hand when delivering the hampers.
“I have had kids jumping up and down – so excited – and moms jumping up and down, too,” Shannon says. “They can’t believe that we have to go back to the car to get more for them. I’ve really found that the families are very appreciative.”
The generosity of sponsors fuels the women driving this project, year after year. The Kinette Club only has four members, who are the engine behind the Share the Spirit program.
“Every year it just amazes me just how supportive the community is,” Shannon says.
A touching expression of generosity came two years ago, when twin brothers came by with $200 they had collected from their birthday party. They had asked their guests to make a donation to the Share the Spirit program instead of buying the boys birthday presents.
“That one made me cry,” Shannon says. “Just knowing that even at that young age kids are realizing how good it feels to give – and not just to receive.”
From Dec. 11-13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. the Kinette Club of Whitehorse volunteers will be accepting cash donations at the old library, which is adjacent to the Yukon Government Administrative Building at 2071 – 2nd Ave.