Some 57 children on the Northern Peninsula are getting an early Christmas gift thanks to a partnership between the Eagle River Credit Union and St. Anthony Family Resource Centre (SAFRC).
This year, the credit union launched a new social responsibility program called Warm Coats for Kids aimed at ensuring children in need could receive a new winter jacket.
“When families are struggling financially, necessities like warm winter clothing can be hard to come by as food, shelter, heat and medical costs take priority,” said
Alvina O’Brien, Eagle River CEO. “Children living under these circumstances are familiar to receiving second-hand clothing. By providing a new coat, especially around the holidays, a child is not only provided with warmth, but also a boost in confidence, inclusion and self-worth.”
Charmaine Cull, executive director of SAFRC, said her organization was more than happy to partner with Eagle River.
“It was a privilege, actually, to be a part of this heart-warming gift that we’re giving,” she said.
The SAFRC reached out to schools and other community organizations such as the Salvation Army, as well as contacting some of the 300-400 families the centre serves to identify the people who could most benefit from the program.
Five other community partners from Deer Lake to Happy Valley-Goose Bay also participated in the program — Salvation Army (Deer Lake), Kids First Family Resource Centre (Port Saunders), Southern Labrador Family Centre (Mary’s Harbour), Community Youth Network (L’Anse au Loup), and Salvation Army (Happy Valley- Goose Bay).
Lynn Hunter-Murphy, the credit union’s director of social responsibility programs, said they worked with these organizations to identify the needs in each community and were able to provide the full number of coats in each case. The largest number, 80, went to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which also covers the nearby coastal communities of Labrador.
The Southern Labrador/Strait of Belle Isle Community Youth Network (CYA) in L’Anse au Loup received 20 coats.
“There are times families may find themselves in a tight restraint, and it is just amazing to see Eagle River Credit Union reaching out to lend a helping hand,” said Lisa Davis-Ryland, CYA executive director. “There is no better feeling then knowing you are able to help someone.”
The program initially purchased 188 coats, but Hunter-Murphy said the credit union was even able to provide five additional coats to families who didn’t find out about the program until after the fact.
The St. Anthony Resource Centre, through its network of nine centres, distributed coats all over the Northern Peninsula.
“We were very overwhelmed and blessed to be partnered with this program and if it ever comes up again in the near future, we will partner again,” Cull said. “It’s very rewarding to see the smile on a family’s face. As we know, things can become overwhelming and stressful at this time of year with the cost of Christmas approaching and just knowing it’s a little ease on families and know that child is going to have a warm jacket.”