Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Margaret Armour, Fundraising Coordinator for The Snowsuit Fund, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
Another bitterly cold day in Ottawa, the Nation’s Capital. For many, it may seem obvious that our kids should be properly dressed for the harsh winter weather. But what if the only coat that still fits is a paper thin windbreaker? And what if buying a new winter jacket is made impossible when finances are tight, and rent is due next week? For many families in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, these ‘what if’ questions are a harsh reality. Enter The Snowsuit Fund…
Every parent wants what is best for their child. As a parent myself, I cannot imagine how hard it would be if I could not provide basic necessities for my children. Providing a snowsuit to a child in need is a simple act for many of us, but it has a lasting impact on that child and family. It provides warmth when needed – it is like giving a hug to someone in need!
Sadly, we know that poverty will almost certainly always exist. The work we do at The Snowsuit Fund is just one small way that we can make our fellow Canadian’s lives a little bit easier, and a little bit warmer. Our mission and impact revolves especially around vulnerable children. A young child cannot be held responsible for their family’s financial situation, but they are unavoidably affected and directly impacted by it. Providing a child with a snowsuit has the obvious benefit of keeping them warm and dry. But there is so much more to consider. There are many indirect benefits to not only that one child, but also to our community as whole.
A child who is properly dressed for the Canadian winter weather will be able to fit in with their peers, and enjoy the simple pleasures that winter brings. Just imagine the joy brought to that child while making a snowman in the playground during recess. A snowsuit will keep a child warm and healthy. As a result, they will miss less school and activities due to illness, and will grow up knowing that their family and community care for them.
We are privileged to live in a bountiful country, and Ottawa is considered a very wealthy city. So often we tend to forget that every community has people living on the poverty lines and struggling to get by. For many of us, it is hard to consider that there could be families – our own neighbours even – living below the poverty line. Sometimes we make assumptions about lifestyle, and lay blame for the misfortunes of others. But job loss or downsizing can happen to anyone, marital break-up can occur, and illness can strike at any age. All of these are factors that can cause people to fall upon very hard times – and often, children are left helpless as a result of these situations.
Our hope is that the children we are able to help today will go on to lead happy, healthy and productive lives. And that someday, they will return this kindness in some way to those in the community. There is a ripple effect and impact with giving, and we see this daily.
It’s What Former “Snowsuit Kids” Say That Keeps Us Going
We receive feedback regularly on our efforts from donors, but the best conversations are the ones where we hear from former “Snowsuit Kids”: adults who, as children, were clients of The Snowsuit Fund and are now able to give back. One of these “Snowsuit Kids” stories comes to mind:
This past year, we were contacted by a business interested in conducting a fundraising event for us. They had big plans, and were very excited about the opportunity to make an impactful gift to our organization. We wondered: why was The Snowsuit Fund selected as the charity of choice? The organizer shared with us her story. She arrived as a young girl to Ottawa with her sister and mother. Her mother was a single parent holding down several jobs in order to make ends meet. She described her very first visit to our Depot, at around age 8, with her sister. The excitement of trying on a beautiful new snowsuit is an experience she told us she would never ever forget. She spoke to the kindness and respect that was shown to her mother, and the patience displayed as she and her sister carefully selected their very own snowsuits, and the dignity and joy she felt as they left. Nearly 30 years later, she finally had the opportunity to say thank you by organizing a very successful fundraiser on our behalf.
Stories like this remind us all of why we are here, and how one simple act of kindness can make a difference, and warm someone’s heart.