The holidays certainly looked a lot different as the world brought 2020 to a close. After a successful year adapting to online and distanced programming, the Youth and Family Services team was eager to find a unique way to connect with our clients and celebrate their accomplishments this year.
In years past, our Holiday Heartwarmers have been a time to connect with our neighbours, meet extended families, have some fun and enjoy some tasty treats. This year, we wanted to find a way to still connect but keep everyone safe at home. Our Holiday Heartwarmer Online Party and Care Packages were the perfect way to bring some comfort, joy and holiday magic to our clients from the comforts of their living rooms.
Throughout the month of December, our team assembled over 60 care packages for newcomer families and individual clients who attended our 2020 programs. In each package, clients received some cookies to decorate, hot chocolate to mix, gift cards, stuffed animals and more. Staff delivered packages and sent distanced hugs and big smiles to clients from a safe distance.
“It’s really kind,” explained one of our youth, after receiving her package. “It brings hope to those who have lost faith, that there are some people who are still caring.”
On December 16th, clients brought their care packages to our online Holiday Heartwarmer party to connect with others and celebrate a long list of achievements. Attendees were treated to an evening of music, magic and mad science from the comfort of their own homes. Indigenous community leaders Brianna and Gordy Bear opened our session with beautiful stories, songs and drumming. Our youth were also captivated by the wizardry of magician Chris Yuill, who showed us you can still read someone’s mind from the other side of the screen. Our friends at Science Venture brought their own special magic, wowing us with a simple recipe to make a big foamy eruption of Elephant’s Toothpaste. Even at a distance, it was heartwarming to see jaws drop, laughs erupt and youth cheer on our performers.
This past year certainly was a challenging one for our ICA community – it was also a time of great growth, reflection and perseverance. Despite having to adapt to the pandemic, our function remains the same: to connect, celebrate and inspire our newcomer youth and families. A year ago, we could not have imagined that this would be how we would celebrate, and yet the warm feelings in our hearts were comforting and familiar.
We are grateful to all our community partners for their inspiring work and for helping us bring joy to our ICA clients. We would like to thank the Wolf’s Den Youth Leadership Grant, Starbucks, Public Sector Digest and an anonymous donor for their generous contributions to our Heartwarmer program.
We look forward to growing this important program and adapting to the new challenges that lie ahead to lift up our community in 2021.