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How Vernon is making Christmas wishes come true

John Howard Society shelter services manager Kelly Fehr encourages members of the public to visit the Homeless Partners website and pledge to make someone's wish come true.
December 17, 2014 - 3:06 PM

VERNON - A phone card, a bus ticket, warm footwear: It’s not your usual Christmas wish list, but for those on the receiving end, the gifts may mean a call home, a family visit or keeping warm on the unforgiving winter streets.

It’s part of an initiative called Homeless Partners, which collects stories from the homeless, posts their wish lists, and invites the community to make their wishes come true.

“Some of the wishes are so simplistic, from a hot wheels car to a phone card,” says Vernon organizer Amanda bailey. “As a community you can pick and choose whose story hits home with you. I think it’s just a beautiful idea.”

So far, Vernon is the only Okanagan city participating, but it's an idea worth spreading.

"I would absolutely love to see this grow in the Interior," Bailey said.

Clients at Howard House and the Gateway Shelter were interviewed by staff and their stories were published online. Once you hit the pledge button, there are instructions on where to drop off the gift.

“I think it’s really good for the community to connect and hear their stories. A lot of the time homelessness is invisible; you don’t always see it or acknowledge it,” Bailey says.

There are 24 entries from Vernon on the website, each of them immensely personal and candid.

“I’m so moved by the individual stories; it takes a lot of courage,” Bailey says.

Many gifts have already been pledged by members of the community and are waiting to be handed out Christmas morning. Vernon hasn’t participated every year due to the large amount of volunteer hours that go into organizing it, but Bailey did attend one year. Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, she says, and having a gift to wake up to makes all the difference.

“It was a really emotional, heartwarming experience to see that happen for our clients,” Bailey says. “I think they’re truly touched by what a great community Vernon is.”

You can pledge a gift and read the stories here.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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