Tara Shanks, with the help of friends, family and community, fills dozens of stockings every Christmas for youth served by Threshold Housing Society. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Tara Shanks, with the help of friends, family and community, fills dozens of stockings every Christmas for youth served by Threshold Housing Society. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Oak Bay woman and newly-adopted daughters stuff stockings for at-risk youth

Threshold Housing youth to receive Christmas stockings

When Tara Shanks learned how many Victoria youth wake up without gifts on Christmas morning, she jumped into action.

It was Christmas 2017 when she first started creating stockings for young people supported by Threshold Housing Society. Two years later she’s nearly finished the adoption process for three young girls and her stocking-stuffing efforts have more than tripled.

Threshold Housing Society works to prevent adult homelessness by providing safe housing, support services and community to at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Many of the youth Threshold serves are about to age out of foster care or have already aged out of care.

READ ALSO: How to make holiday gift-giving eco-friendly — and more meaningful

Shanks’ heart broke when she learned that many of young people in Threshold housing rarely woke up to gifts on Christmas morning.

“In Victoria, youth homelessness is a huge issue that kind of gets missed sometimes. … There’s so many people who need help but I just found for this age group, people are less aware,” Shanks said. “As soon as [Threshold] said [youth] have never received a stocking, I had to help…it’s just so different from the world I grew up in.”

Now the community of Oak Bay, where Shanks runs a small business, helps out too. Gift and cash donations pour in and help the family fill stockings for every youth in Threshold programs. Shanks says her daughters love the process of giving back.

“Now for our girls who have joined us from foster care and were adopted over the age of 10, the idea that some of those kids have aged out [of care] really means something to them. They understand what that feeling could be like.

“The biggest part for me, with the stockings, is not so much that they get the stuff, which is lovely … it’s that they know the community sees them. That to me is the real message there,” Shanks added. “We see you, we acknowledge you, you’re important.”

READ ALSO: Threshold House officially opens doors

Jasmine Campbell, development coordinator at Threshold Society, echoed Shanks sentiment, and explained that the youth served by Threshold are often categorized as the ‘hidden homeless.’

She said while many go to high school or post secondary, at the end of the day, they don’t have a safe, stable place to go home to.

“Often that’s not something you can see. So if you can’t see it, you won’t think about it.”

Campbell said the stockings will go to young people who aren’t expecting anything on Christmas morning.

“They’re going to wake up to gifts under the tree, and that’s all thanks to community members like Tara and the people who have come forward to help make that possible,” she said. “I feel like it tells that they’re not alone this Christmas. They have an entire community supporting them.”

To support Shanks and her Christmas stockings, you can drop off items like chocolate, candy, decks of cards, tools and other small items to A La Mode Consignment in Oak Bay or by emailing Shanks at tara@ponderingturtles.com.

To learn more about how you can help youth supported by thresholdhousing.ca/get-involved/.

READ ALSO: Santa drops by Victoria Gen Hospital to give teddy bears to region’s sickest kids



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Council has recommended that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) approve a cannabis retail application by Buds Cannabis. It plans to open the store in the 9700-block of Second Street. It would be the business’ second outlet (it has an outlet in Central Saanich) and the second such business in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney recommends approval of licence for second pot shop

Councillors also push back against public concerns about Sidney’s image

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read