There is no place like home for the holidays.
For hundreds of youth in Simcoe County, that’s not possible.
Barrie’s Youth Haven recently launched their annual Boxes of Hope campaign, and money raised from a $50 box purchase is used to buy gifts at Christmas for youth experiencing homelessness.
But it’s more than just what Youth Haven is able to do with the money to buy gift cards, bus tokens, toiletries, and winter clothing, according to executive director Lucy Gowers.
“It’s about giving our youth a sense of belonging and knowing there is someone out there who truly does care about them, and for their well-being.”
Gifts are purchased for youth in emergency care at the shelter, as well as Youth Haven’s transitional housing program and outreach services.
“We want to ensure every youth who comes to us for support receives a Christmas present,” said Gowers.
Youth Haven provides services to youth ages 16 to 24 in Barrie, Orillia, and Simcoe County, and it is the only emergency shelter in the region for young people.
“We’re still struggling with COVID,” said Gowers. “We’re still trying to work hard to ensure that our youth are safe and healthy.”
“I understand the rest of the community is struggling with the same. But I also know that we live in a very generous community. We are humbled by the generosity and overwhelmed by their donations. I can’t stress enough how much it means to us, but how much more it means to the youth who actually come to the shelter looking for food, a bed or support, or someone to talk with.”
The Boxes of Hope campaign raised $55,000 last holiday season.
Gowers recalled a person who recently donated $500 to Boxes of Hope.
“When we asked why the donation was made, their response was that they sincerely hoped it would bring comfort to the young people that Youth Haven offers hope to,” said Gowers. “This says it all because it is about our community.”
feature image: Youth Haven executive director Lucy Gowers