The Christmas season can be a tough time for those who are isolated at the best of times, something that is being magnified by the pandemic.
This year, for the first time, the Guelph’s Holiday Angels program will match donors with individuals in need of gifts to help spread some holiday cheer.
“The meaning of Christmas is going to be so different this year. Guelph’s Holiday Angels is a heartwarming program for our vulnerable population who may be alone for many different reasons during the holiday season or who simply can’t afford a gift for themselves,” says Kyla Rowntree, one of the founders of the program.
The goal for Guelph’s Holiday Angels is to have 200 donors help 200 applicants.
“This can be for seniors, those who are isolated, newcomers to Canada or anyone struggling with health or mental issues.”
Guelph’s Holiday Angels are partnering with community organizations to help those who are vulnerable feel special and cared for during these challenging times with a gift basket full of festive treats.
“Christmas is a magical time and knowing that we have such a strong community, we can all add some Christmas kindness and cheer to someone who needs it on Christmas morning,” says Rebecca McKinlay.
The program has partnered with Heather Grummett, owner of Creative Edge in Guelph, where she will prepare and wrap gift baskets.
“I was excited when I heard about the Guelph’s Holiday Angels program,” Grummett says.
“Many people struggle with loneliness during the holidays, but this year may be more difficult for those who live alone and do not have family close by. Letting people know that their community is thinking of them can brighten their day more than we may even know. I’m glad I can be a part of that.”
Job Opportunities Enterprise (J.O.E.) will be donating cards to accompany each basket.
“We have partnered with J.O.E., a registered Canadian charity focused on community-based employment and job training for adults with developmental disabilities. The Christmas cards were made on-line by young adults who work and volunteer at J.O.E. We are so happy to partner with this charity this year,” McKinlay said.
Each basket will contain holiday treats from local businesses.
“A big part of this for us, is shopping local. We wanted to find a program with local businesses sourcing local products. We thought, how can we reach out to our vulnerable population while still supporting local businesses?” says Rowntree.
“Guelph is a very giving community, and we need donors. It can be a school, or a corporation. Anyone can help. We have a Guelph’s Holiday Angels page featured on the Creative Edge website and it showcases our specialty baskets that have been specifically curated for the program.”
The gift giving program is built upon anonymity between both the applicant and donor.
“Donors and applicants can just fill out the forms and we will take care of the deliveries. Heather will be the only one preparing the baskets and everyone is ready for safe and smooth deliveries.”
This isn’t the first time Rowntree and McKinlay have paired up for a Christmas cause.
Last year, they both partnered to help seniors in the community with a gift program during the holidays.
“This year, there is just so much more of a need. Guelph is such a caring and generous community. We need to support those who are vulnerable, and we hope the community comes together for this heartwarming gift this year,” Rowntree said.
Dec. 18 is the deadline for donations. Baskets will be delivered on Dec 21. All gifts will be created by one person, quarantined for two days and picked-up for delivery by one volunteer to limit touch points.
Guelph's Holiday Angels hopes to bridge that gap with the help of generous and giving community members.
“Guelph Strong!” McKinlay says. “We are all in this together,”
Donors and applicants can register online at: