For Vickie Song, it was an easy decision, one in which pride had no place. She tried doing it on her own. As a trained chef, she cooked for mining camps in Northern B.C., but shift work took too much time away from her children, Nicholas, 14, and Breanna, 11. She now hasn't worked in a year.
Song receives assistance, but it's barely enough to pay rent, food and power. With Christmas coming up, she made the decision and made the call to the Self-Help, Arts, Recreation and Education (SHARE) Society.
"If it was just myself, it might be different," she said. "But since I have kids, they come first. If I have two pieces of bread left, they go to my kids. It's for them that I do it."
Song reached Terry Anderson, general manager of the SHARE Thrift Store in Kelowna, which sets up those in need with families and corporations willing to help, especially this time of year. Thanks to Anderson and SHARE, Song and her children will have a little extra under the Christmas tree and on the dinner table this year.
"I'm the type of person that, if I need help, I need help," she said. "I don't care what people say."
Certainly, people are willing to help. Anderson says the SHARE Thrift Store helps 55 to 70 families a year. The program has on average 50 families and corporations annually who help.
The Sandman Hotel in Kelowna is one of those companies that goes beyond simple donations. It raised nearly $5,000 for presents, food, a pizza feed and an overnight stay at a poolside room at the hotel. Dee Cristante, sales and marketing manager, says SHARE gave the hotel a chance make Christmas truly memorable.
"It's something that probably a single mom would not have the opportunity to put forward to her family," Cristante said. "We want to make it special for them."
Cristante and her sales staff worked for five months, putting together raffles, throwing a Christmas gala that included a silent auction and drawings to win prizes from Kelowna businesses.
"We have a great, creative team behind the scenes here," Cristante said.
June Ord, executive housekeeper for the hotel, recently won a $500 prize from the Sandman corporation for outstanding service. She elected to donate the winnings to the SHARE Christmas program.
If Cristante has her way, more corporations will get involved in similar programs. In fact, she wants more hotels to do something similar to what the Sandman did -- preferably with SHARE.
"I would like to challenge other hotels in Kelowna to jump on the program, because it is outstanding," she said. "Sometimes, when you're fundraising, you don't know where your dollars go. The beautiful thing about this organization is that it's completely hands-on. We are in complete control of the funds that we raise. And we have the ability to meet the families. You get to have a rapport with the persons you're helping. We're really happy that we have the opportunity to do this."
So is Song, who could put her pride aside so that her children could have a more enjoyable Christmas.
"I just thank them so much for this," she said. "I'm eternally grateful for something like this to be out there."