For many years at CAANS we have navigated the world of holiday gift giving with clients. We want to acknowledge this great ritual and be fair to our clients. We work to mitigate the lack of access to food and the caring that seems to happen only on special days during the season. We do an event called the 12 Days of Holidays. This year is our 3rd year.
Each night we distribute pieces of holiday cheer and we tend to distribute gift cards. The gift cards are for downtown businesses including: Carnival Cinemas, Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Transit tickets, City Roast and Suspended Coffee. Gifts may also include mandarin oranges, candy canes or holiday cards.
The CAANS NightReach staff use the gifts as an engagement strategy. As the staff encounter people, they engage in conversation and ask questions about their plans for the holidays. During the conversation, staff give the gift of the day and encourage the individual to use the gift cards. Cards are not provided if there are a large number of people together, as we want to ensure there are enough cards to go to everyone. Cards are also not given to individuals who ask, our experience shows these are people who generally are not in dire need, but it is up to the staff’s judgement if they know differently. For the 2014 holiday we received or were able to purchase 139 $10 gift certificates.
If there are any leftovers, they will be used in outreach programming (specifically NightReach, Women’s Program and Harm Reduction).
We implement this event through donations from the community. We would appreciate your support.
In friendship, the CAANS Staff and Volunteers