Once again this Christmas, the Homeless Partners are hoping Victorians add a stranger to this last-minute shopping list.
The non-profit works in partnership with three shelters in Victoria to match residents to other people in the community who’d like to buy them a gift of their choosing.
Central to the initiative, put on by the Shelbourne Street Church of Christ, is an interview with each person on the recipient list. The aim is to help the public connect with the people living at Rock Bay Landing, Sandy Merriman House and Next Steps Transitional Shelter.
The interviews and wish lists are posted to the website at www.homelesspartners.com.
Wish lists include items such as a pre-paid phone card, a waterproof coat, a mountain bike and a tool belt with tools.
Deborah wants a pink dress and navy blue dress shoes.
“I haven’t had a new dress since 1983, and I love the colour pink,” she said.
Deborah uses a walker and has been living at Rock Bay Landing for 11 months after being evicted from her last home. She says it has been more than 30 years since she’s had a new pair of shoes.
The program is very popular, said Joann Connolly, who works at Rock Bay Landing.
At Christmas, the shelter already receives a lot of toques, socks and toiletries, she said. “This is a chance to ask for something they want.”
Last year, Homeless Partners posted 69 interviews. The response was “overwhelming,” said program volunteer Dan Hickman. Everyone got at least one of the items on their wish list.
This year, 118 people were interviewed and so far, all but 28 have received gifts.
“For some people in our city, there is no home for the holidays,” Hickman said. “People can change the life of a homeless person right here in Victoria.”