Anyone making the transition to live on their own for the first time, to independence, faces financial difficulties. But imagine not having any family members to lean on for support, or struggling with a small food budget... in those staggering circumstances, any help is a blessing that makes a difference. That's why the Winnipeg chapter of HOPE is running their fifth annual "Stock the Shelves Drive" to collect necessary items for youth preparing to live on their own after living in foster care.
The Challenge: Stretching to the End
According to Dana Reuther in the Permanency Planning Department in Winnipeg Child and Family Services “The challenge for the youth that we have living on their own is stretching their food budget to last until the end of the month.” Youth still in care receive a budget to cover rent, utilities and all living expenses, but this budget would be considered minimal by most. Many of the youth are overjoyed and sometimes emotional that they can choose what they want from the pantry – a whole bag of groceries and personal supplies rather than having to make a choice based on a limited budget.
Some might ask, why don't they go to the food bank? Most youth find it quite daunting to visit a food bank as personal identification is required and the process is a little more than they can handle at their young age. So all items collected in this annual drive will be used to stock the shelves at a Winnipeg Child and Family Services office. Social workers will then determine if their wards are in need, and if so, bring them in for some emergency items to help them last until the end of the month. Or if a ward has turned 18 and is leaving foster care for life on their own, they might need some help with food after all their budget has been spent on paying for the necessities of setting up a new home.
Dana Reuther shared her story of bringing a ward to the pantry:
One of our Permanent Wards just turned 18 and decided to leave Winnipeg and move to a northern Manitoba town. She had a very rough year and lost her only close living relative this year. She was leaving in search of someone or something! I helped her pack up all she owned (2 duffel bags and a garbage bag full) and after some discussion figuring out she would arrive during a weekend with no systems help being opened, we offered her some food out of the cupboard to take with her. She was very excited to pack a bag of food and supplies (knowing she had nothing to eat, with no plan yet). Then she realized that she was only allowed to take 2 bags on the bus. So this young girl had to make a decision - her clothing/personal belongings or a bag of food – she chose the food!
How You Can Help
We are looking for the following items to be donated by Sunday April 2nd, 2017:
Quick heat meals
Peanut Butter / Jam
Toiletries / personal hygiene items
Donations can be dropped off any Sunday morning up until April 2nd at Samuel Burland School (172 Burland Avenue) where volunteers from our principal partnering organization, the Winnipeg Church of Christ, will be meeting. Alternate drop off arrangements and locations can be made by contacting Krista Wiebe, Winnipeg Chapter, at firstname.lastname@example.org