Rita Innamorati, Volunteer Nanaimo director, shows off some of the larger donations purchased by people for Volunteer Nanaimo’s Christmas Angels program that supports seniors, families and youths in need at Christmas. The program needs to match about 160 more families with Angel sponsors. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s angels help those in need at Christmas time

With Christmas Angels program, it’s often the little things that count, says Volunteer Nanaimo

Anonymous angels will grace Nanaimo’s Christmas trees again this year.

Volunteer Nanaimo’s Christmas Angels program, which supports Nanaimo’s children and families in need, is again calling out to individuals and businesses who want to share cheer with those less fortunate.

Rita Innamorati, Volunteer Nanaimo director, said the program is out to support about 400 families – 100 more than last year – or around 1,200 people and the program is still looking for sponsors for about 160 families.

The Christmas Angels program helps seniors, families and vulnerable youths through Christmas by matching them with sponsoring donors. Recipients are vetted through Volunteer Nanaimo and other agencies that refer them to the program. Sponsors and donors never know each others’ identities. Tax receipts are issued for donations and every dollar donated is spent locally and none is used for administration or Volunteer Nanaimo operating costs because the organization has no paid staff.

Innamorati said she and her volunteers never know what Angels will give and because sponsors want to make Christmas extra special, the gifts purchased can be quite elaborate, such as a karaoke machine for one child and a skateboard for another. But little items are important and can make a big difference, according to Volunteer Nanaimo.

“If you can’t adopt, [consider] a small donation, a small gift card that we can put in a teen’s gift bag,” Innmorati said. “There are huge asks this year for shampoo and conditioner. Tea towels, laundry detergent. Stuff that you don’t normally get in a food hamper, but it’s stuff that they still need. Or if they want to donate a hoodie for a teenager … something that’s not used, so a child can have something new to wear after Christmas.”

Socks, movie passes, gift cards for groceries, Tim Hortons or Subway, ear buds, adult colouring books and felt markers are just a few suggestions for inexpensive donations. Items for vulnerable youths are on Innamorati’s wish list too.

“For those kids it’s a decent backpack because they’re walking in the rain a lot, and warm socks and toiletries … those toiletry kits you get for $10, those are like gold for those kids,” Innamorati said.

To get involved in Volunteer Nanaimo’s Christmas Angels program or learn more about it, call 250-758-7121 or e-mail vnanaimo@gmail.com.

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