BY MELISSA HORTON
Every holiday season, heartwarming stories come out in the news about communities helping families in need. These families are struggling to make ends meet and need help in buying gifts for their loved ones.
However, the need is so great that some people are overlooked. One Kitchener company has stepped in to help. Thresholds, a non-profit community mental health agency, works with mental health clients as well as the homeless on a daily basis. They see the struggles that these people go through but when the holidays roll around, the struggles become even harder. With many clients barely being able to afford the daily essentials, buying gifts is not always possible.
To help with this issue, Thresholds teamed up with Manulife in 2003 and started an Angel Tree program. Each year, a list of clients and their requests are sent out to staff in the office. A staff member then picks as many people as they can, buys gifts and delivers them to the person in need.
In its first year, the program helped 39 people and has since helped more than 100 clients. A few years ago, Thresholds teamed up with another Kitchener-based company, Spinal Garage.
Amanda Renner, housing support co-ordinator for Thresholds, expressed her thanks to Spinal Garage, a chiropractic business, for all the donations they have given over the years.
“They did about half of our whole list,” said Renner. Rob Martin, manager for housing support services at Thresholds, shared the same sentiment, saying Spinal Garage has brought a lot of attention to the Angel Tree through their office.
“They can use all the support they can get,” he said.
However, it is not just Spinal Garage that has fulfilled many of the needs of mental health clients during the holidays. The staff at Thresholds also makes sure no person is left behind. For the clients who are left, staff buy what they need and deliver the gifts right to their door.
“Staff have always stepped in,” said Martin.
Many of the gifts delivered are essential items such as toiletries. With many of the clients being homeless, even the most essential items are needed. Other clients simply ask for gifts they can give to their family members since they can’t afford to buy any themselves.
This year alone, the Angel Tree program has helped over 60 mental health and homeless people. These are people who, without help, would not have been able to afford any of the items they needed.
The Angel Tree is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Thresholds does for the community. Year-round the agency helps not only those with mental health issues but helps with housing the homeless as well. Although the Angel Tree is just one of the many ways Thresholds gives back, it is one of the most impactful.
If you would like to learn more about Thresholds, you can visit their website at www.thresholdssupports.ca