The Holiday Spirit: ‘It’s as important to us as giving gifts to our own’


At the YW Kitchener-Waterloo, not only do we rely on the Holiday Spirit but we are utterly grateful for the many people in our community who donate their time and effort to make sure others have a Christmas too.

The YW KW is lucky to have a supportive and dedicated list of donors from schools, churches, businesses and charity organizations, including our own Club 84, who make it their mission to help others during the holiday season.

Even individual families such as Jean LeForge and her husband Rollie Galbraith who have been baking and assembling gingerbread houses for the YW Emergency Shelter for 20 plus years.

“It brightens up Christmas,” said Jean LeForge.

Parkminister United Church in Waterloo began offering a full Christmas dinner to the women staying at our Emergency Shelter, known as Mary’s Place, more than two decades ago.

Congregants purchased tickets for “a dinner to which you are not invited,” said church member Elna Robertson, who recalls churchgoers loving the idea and donating generously.

This year, the church continues to donate to the Emergency Shelter. This month, four turkeys, including one halal, were delivered to the shelter, along with baked goodies made by church members.

The treats include shortbread and gingerbread cookies, square and tarts and they are definitely loved by shelter residents.


Another donor that has been collecting for the Emergency Shelter for 20 plus years is Laurelwood Public School.

The Waterloo school – with just over 700 students – holds a Week of Giving where friendly competition between the primary, junior and intermediate levels bring in boxes of diapers, toiletries, along with mitts, scarves and hats.

The school hallways are lined with shopping carts full to the brim.

“It’s a tradition at the school. We look forward to it,” said Doris Schooley, a library clerk at the school, who recently delivered boxes to the YW Block Line housing location. “It brings the school together.”

The school community also collected $4000 and the money was distributed in gift cards to the YW, along with Ray of Hope and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Each day of the Christmas Drive, students are reminded why items are collected and for whom they are delivered to.

“What better way to show the kids then to lead by example,” she said.

Stuffin Stockings donated 145 stockings to the YW which will be distributed to our clients, including children and teenagers.

Melissa Fishman, who co-chairs the Stuffin Stockings organization, became familiar with the YW when she worked with us in a professional capacity on our idea of supportive housing on Block Line Road.

Since then – three years ago – Stuffin Stockings – has offered us gift bags filled with shampoo, hygiene products, along with socks, hats and mitts.

The organization raises up to 40 per cent of its funds and also relies on corporate sponsors, Fishman said. This year, the group put together 2,700 stockings.

“It takes a small army” to put the stockings together but for the volunteers, many from the business groups who donate, it’s time well spent helping others, Fishman said.

“It’s as important to us as giving gifts for our own families.”


What is Christmas without a new pair of pyjamas? That was what the staff at Waterloo North Chiropractic and Massage thought when they came up with the PJ drive 11 years ago for the YW Emergency Shelter.

PJs were a gift many staff recalled receiving as children and a present that brought comfort. And if you had to leave your home what would be one thing that would bring you some ease and remind you of home – pyjamas, said Kait Taylor, chiropractor health assistant.

More than 100 pairs of adult PJs and 14 for children were distributed to the YW. As well as pyjamas and toiletries, hats, mitts, socks and slippers are gathered together in a box.

At the Waterloo chiropractor and massage business, the collection drive begins in October and clients are very generous, Taylor said.

“PJs may sound frivolous but the give comfort and security.”

The YW Kitchener-Waterloo would also like to thank some of the many donors during this Holiday Season who give generously to our Emergency Shelter, and our supportive housing projects on Block Line Road in Kitchener and Lincoln Road in Waterloo. They help make Christmas just a little brighter for the women and children we serve.

Waterloo Regional Police in partnership with Knights of Columbus in Waterloo

  • Definity Insurance
  • K-W Basketeers
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Community Spirit Lions Club
  • H.O.P.E. – Helping Out People Everywhere
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • 519 Community Collective
  • Waterloo Region Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECE) Local
  • St. Francis of Assisi Church in Kitchener
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Kitchener
  • The Shoebox Project for Women
  • Invis Mortgage Experts
  • Jean LeForge and Rollie Galbraith
  • Ladies Philoptochos of Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Kitchener


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