Victoria’s homeless asked for Christmas wish list

Innovative program called Homeless Partners is connecting local donors with local shelters

Access to food and stable shelter often overshadow thoughts of presents under the Christmas tree for many of Greater Victoria’s at-risk residents.

But for the fourth year in a row, an innovative program called Homeless Partners is connecting local donors with local shelters to provide personalized presents when they’re needed most.

“What is so special about the Homeless Partners is that they take the time and care to talk with people staying at the shelter in order to find a unique and special gift that is exactly what is needed,” said Don McTavish, Victoria Cool Aid Society’s shelter manager.

Each December, volunteers sit down with residents at Cool Aid shelters to hear their stories and find out what gift they’d most like to receive.

The stories are then posted at homelesspartners.com, where donors can purchase desired gifts and send personalized notes to each recipient.

While the program is already running in 10 North American cities, organizers are in the process of raising $10,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to build a new website that allows for easier donations and greater growth.

“We’re going global this year,” said Jennie Keeran, who founded the program with her husband, Dan. “One of the former donors in Vancouver has put together a team of programmers and designers to create new software that allows anyone to unlock their city and begin this project.”

Fundraising closes Nov. 20. To donate, visit homelesspartners.com/fundraiser.

Homeless profiles will be added to the website in December, Keeran said.