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Christmas Marketplace addresses greater needs caused by the pandemic

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Thousands of individuals and families in the city struggle during the holiday season in the face of circumstances that can leave them hungry, cold and alone. This year, life is even more complicated by challenges caused by pandemic restrictions.  

We’re all terribly sad and disappointed that Christmas Wonderland, Good Shepherd’s much-anticipated holiday celebration, which welcomes more than 2,300 people for a fun social experience and turkey dinner, has been cancelled due to Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions. The event is a heart-warming reminder of the true spirit of the season, so we’re looking forward to 2021 when we can all gather together again.  

Despite the setback, Good Shepherd remains committed to ensuring that everyone can experience the joy of the holidays so we’ve expanded our annual Christmas Marketplace to accommodate as many households as possible from November 23 to December 24.   

The Marketplace expansion was planned near the beginning of 2020, before the effects of the global pandemic were felt. The health emergency and its potential to create a greater need for Good Shepherd’s assistance made our decision even more critical.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the emergency. A recent report by Community Food Centres Canada showed that in the first two months of the pandemic, food insecurity increased and affected one in seven Canadians. 

In previous years, Good Shepherd’s Christmas Marketplace served about 2,150 families, potentially leaving 800-900 families unable to take part. Over 25 days this year, we expect to welcome 3,000 households, comprising about 7,400 individuals. 

“We recognized that we needed to remain open longer, through December, both for a Christmas visit and for emergency food services,” says Mark Tennant, program supervisor at the Good Shepherd Venture Centre, where the Marketplace is located. “Now we’re helping more people and reducing food insecurity in the community. And we’re welcoming new clients.” 

Members of Hamilton’s food bank system are closely affiliated and work to ensure that its clients can access sufficient amounts of food for their households. Good Shepherd’s Christmas Marketplace gives them an additional opportunity to shop for winter clothing and a wide array of nutritious food. They will also be able to take home whole chickens and ham for their holiday dinner.  

“We have a trailer full of new toys for children that we are excited to give out,” says Mark. 

Donations of food and clothing are accepted at the Venture Centre until December 24. The Christmas Marketplace is located at the Good Shepherd Venture Centre, 155 Cannon Street East, Hamilton.

For information, visit bit.ly/2IOZJAe

© 2021 Good Shepherd