Everyone Deserves to Smile at Christmas

A Christmas Appeal from Brother Richard MacPhee

 

Christmas is our favourite time of year at Good Shepherd. It is a time when our community comes together to bring the spirit of the season to the thousands of people in our city who live silently in the shadow of poverty, homelessness, mental illness and abuse.

Many Hamilton residents struggle through the Holidays with no food, no tree, no gifts, no home. With your help, they can make their own Christmas celebration memories.

I’d like to tell you about Alicia, who balances a full-time job with volunteering at her kids’ school. For years, she carried with her a terrible secret; her work life hid the reality of domestic abuse in her home. Alicia’s life was consumed by her duty to protect herself and her two children, Sammy, 9, and Amelia, 5, from persistent verbal and physical abuse. The situation became so dangerous that she took the courageous step to contact Good Shepherd’s Martha House emergency shelter, and they soon left the violence. Alicia and her family stayed at Martha House for four months where they received counselling and compassionate support while they prepared to move to their own home.

Now, Alicia, Sammy and Amelia live in Good Shepherd housing and are preparing for their second Christmas in a safe and comfortable environment.

This beautiful family joins thousands of guests who celebrate the season with us. Good Shepherd hosts Christmas Wonderland, the Christmas Marketplace, and a variety of dinners and get-togethers throughout Hamilton so that we can bring joy to people whose circumstances leave them hungry, cold and alone.

We believe that everyone deserves to smile at Christmas!

Alicia fondly recalls last year’s visit to Christmas Wonderland at the Hamilton Convention Centre, where we hosted 2,500 guests for a delicious turkey dinner served by 800 volunteers. It truly is an indoor winter wonderland, featuring a visit with Santa, a special gift for everyone, and a magical play area for the youngsters.

“When we arrived at Christmas Wonderland, I held my kids’ hands tightly,” remembers Alicia. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. All those people, who just that morning were struggling with so many challenges, now were smiling and laughing. They’d forgotten their troubles for the afternoon. And so did we. It was a wonderful day for our family!”

Alicia’s emotions mirror our own at Christmas. It is so moving to witness our community’s kindness and hospitality toward people who otherwise are not able to celebrate the Holidays.

Christmas is for everyone, especially Alicia, Sammy and Amelia, who were also our guests last year at the Good Shepherd Christmas Marketplace.

Your donation helps us serve more than 5,500 individuals at the Christmas Marketplace, offering nutritious seasonal groceries, household and personal items and a new toy for every single child, in a festive setting. Your financial gift will bring smiles to the faces of the shoppers who visit us this Christmas.

“When I brought my kids to the Christmas Marketplace last year, I couldn’t help but cry. For the first time in a long time my tears were tears of joy,” says Alicia. “I am so thankful that my family is still safe and we can celebrate Christmas together.”

Donors are our partners in the battle against hunger, poverty, fear and loneliness. Your gift to Good Shepherd this Holiday Season ensures families who come to us have the support they need to overcome the challenges of everyday life. 

Please click here to make a donation or call us at 905.528.6565. 

On behalf of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, our co-workers, volunteers and the people we serve, thank you for your support of Good Shepherd. May the Spirit of Christmas be with you and your family and may the blessings of God be with you always.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Brother Richard MacPhee, OH
Executive Director