Rita Innamorati, Volunteer Nanaimo director, displays some of the items that have been donated to help brighten Christmas for underprivileged families, seniors and youths in Nanaimo. The program, based on donor and recipient anonymity, matches people and organizations that want to share with those in need. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Rita Innamorati, Volunteer Nanaimo director, displays some of the items that have been donated to help brighten Christmas for underprivileged families, seniors and youths in Nanaimo. The program, based on donor and recipient anonymity, matches people and organizations that want to share with those in need. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Volunteer Nanaimo looking for Christmas Angels

Program helps those who want to assist underprivileged families, seniors and youths

Volunteer Nanaimo hopes the weeks leading up to Christmas are when angels will spread their wings.

The organization’s Christmas Angels program, which supports children and families in need, is looking for individuals and local businesses in Nanaimo who are looking to help others through the Christmas season with donations.

Christmas Angels help families, seniors and vulnerable youths through Christmas.

“Last year we helped just over 900 people,” said Rita Innamorati, Volunteer Nanaimo director. “It was about 300 households, thereabouts, but some are smaller, some are bigger. We have a lot of youths.”

Families helped through Christmas Angels are matched with sponsoring donors, but neither the angels or the recipients ever know each others’ identities. The recipients are vetted through Volunteer Nanaimo and agencies that refer those in need the program. Tax receipts are issued for donations and every dollar donated is spent locally.

“Every dollar is spent on Christmas Angels,” Innamorati said. “There is nothing for administration because we don’t have any paid staff. We already have a roof over our heads. We already have the phones. We already have the computers. We spend nothing, absolutely nothing on anything but Christmas Angels.”

Donations are accepted right up until Dec. 23. Donors can purchase items and grocery gift cards for sponsored families or simply make cash donations via Paypal directly to the Christmas Angels program.

For donors who want to give something directly, Innamorati said grocery gift cards that can be given to families are always welcome, but there is always a special need to for items for teenagers.

“Even a $25 gift card, if three people drop one off we’ve got a family of six taken care of,” Innamorati said, “but if they want to buy an actual gift, something for older kids.”

Make-up kits, hoodies, socks and even new pillows or toothbrushes and toothpaste are things are things young people hope to get at Christmas.

“A big thing with the kids are hoodies, socks, gloves,” she said. “Toothbrushes. The youths, in their stockings, toothbrushes, that’s what they’re asking for. Pillows. I have one lady that’s donating 20 pillows and she made custom pillowcases all year for the kids.”

To learn more about the program or to become a Christmas Angel, visit www.volunteernanaimo.ca, e-mail vnanaimo@gmail.com or call Innamorati directly at 250-758-7121.



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