December 10, 2014 · 0 Comments
With Christmas comes the sparkling lights, decorations and music that warm the heart, and the spirit of giving that touches many throughout the season. It is the time of year that brings with it the reminder that not all are as fortunate as ourselves.
That was why local resident Karen Ross-Smith began her Believe Bags project two years ago, as a way to bless single moms in the community with a little something for themselves each Christmas.
While there are many outreach programs, charities and fundraisers designed to help those facing financial, health and other struggles during Christmas, the unfortunate truth is that amidst everything, some are overlooked.
One woman noticed a few Christmases ago that while the seniors and those facing health and financial struggles were being taken care of, single moms seemed to be left behind.
“I went different places and I saw Toys for Tots and I saw Christmas Hampers for Grandparents and all kinds of toy drives and coats for everybody but single moms,” explained Ms. Ross-Smith.
“I thought to myself, ‘What do the moms do when they’re scurrying to get gifts for their kids and everything and no one is looking after them?’”
It was then that Ms. Ross-Smith developed the idea for Believe Bags – bags filled with things that women enjoy, but those facing a difficult time might not be able to afford. It wasn’t due to past experience in that situation that drew her to the idea, but rather the exact opposite.
Last year, after raising awareness about the project through Facebook and the newspapers, Ms. Ross-Smith was able to put together 80 bags to deliver to moms at Family Transition Place and through the Food Bank, a huge jump from the 12 put together in the first year.
“I believe in paying it forward,” she added. “The first year, I asked girlfriends and family members, since this was only a few weeks before Christmas, instead of doing a Secret Santa when we all got together, if they would give into these bags.”
The idea is to gather items that those in a stronger financial situation take for granted, such as makeup, candles, magazines – things that are more of a luxury to those on a low income, but could help those women feel more confident and better during their hard times.
“It was really incredible to see all the support come in last year,” said Ms. Ross-Smith. “I think a lot of it had to do with how much more awareness was raised. It was a huge jump to go from 12 to 80 bags between the first two years.”
She added that this year, she is hoping to collect enough donations to create 100 bags, and will be including Big Brothers and Big Sisters Dufferin as a recipient.
“We’ll still be providing the bags to Family Transition Place and the Food Bank, but I wanted to add Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the mix this year,” she explained. “We’ll give some to the kids there so that they can take the bags home to their moms.”
Currently, there are five collection bins set up around town for people who want to drop off donations: The Body Bar, Jody’s Flair for Hair, Black Birch Restaurant, DKI Highland Restoration and The Edge Wine Bar and Grille.
The donation baskets will be out until December 20, and people interested in helping out can either drop their items off at any of the four locations or contact Ms. Ross Smith through her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/believebagsorangeville.
“Believe Bags are just really to make a woman feel great about herself, to provide her with things that we take for granted,” said Ms. Ross-Smith. “They’re to make women believe in themselves, in Santa and in a little magic.”
The bags will be delivered to recipients on December 22, just in time for Christmas.