Imagine being homeless at Christmas. While many of us are rushing around buying presents and decorating our homes, an estimated 150,000 Canadians are sleeping in shelters, on the streets or in temporary accommodations. Their scene is not so festive.
Steve, 58, is an educated, Presbyterian Priest from Hungary. He has been homeless for the past year as a result of a gambling addiction that cost him his family, career and home. He uses Salvation Army shelter services off and on and will spend Christmas there.
“Isolation and staying alone at Christmas is no good,” he says. “I miss my family and cry a lot. Twice I’ve attempted suicide. I’m thankful for The Salvation Army. I have no one else.”
Six months ago 29-year-old Wayne lost his job. When he could no longer pay his rent, he was evicted. He currently resides at a Salvation Army shelter where they are assisting him in finding affordable housing. With no support from family or friends, he’s happy to be at The Salvation Army this Christmas.
“I’ll be ok,” he grins, “as long as they have a Christmas tree—and, oh, some turkey.”
Adam, who is homeless, sleeps on park benches and lines up at soup kitchens. With the cold winter weather setting in, he now has a warm bed and hot meals at a Salvation Army shelter.
“I’m indebted to The Salvation Army,” says Adam. “I love the folks here at the shelter. They are like brothers and sisters. I don’t need gifts this Christmas, just their love.”
Salvation Army Shelter Services
The Salvation Army is committed to being there for the homeless and the desperate at Christmas and throughout the year. Last year they provided 6,370 shelter beds across Canada. Says Ann, a Salvation Army shelter caseworker: “We serve anyone whose life has crumbled.”
“Christmas is a particularly difficult time for clients,” adds Ben, a front-line worker. “People miss their families. Most participate in Christmas programs, meals and activities, but for some, it is just too difficult.”