The simply written, personal biographies hint at the terrible loneliness and longing that visit the homeless each Christmas. Heartbreaking, too, are the humble requests penned by those who live and sleep on the streets of two of Canada’s most prosperous cities.
Dwayne A., a 49-year-old Vancouver roofer, wants bus tickets and gloves. Jerome L., 50, a transplanted Newfoundlander living in Calgary, is a would-be poet who wants a dictionary. Kari H., a 38-year-old widow who has battled drugs, wishes “my kids and family would talk to me again.”
Their stories and Christmas wishes can be found on two websites, homelessvancouver.com and homelesspartners.com, set up in Vancouver and Calgary, which provide homeless men and women the opportunity to make a Christmas wish list.
Donors can scroll through the profiles, then purchase a gift for a specific person rather than hand over cash or a cheque to a faceless bureaucracy. The homeless, in turn, get a present they specifically requested.
“Most people want to do something for the homeless,” said Rich Duimstra, who manages the Vancouver website. “Or rather, most people think something should be done for the homeless. When people see that they are real people. When people make that connection, then they really do want to help.
“We’re not giving loose change. We’re giving practical gifts.”
Photo by HomelessVancouver.com.