Charity ‘put a light in me,’ says single mom

by British Columbia
Categories: Blog, Feature

When Nelson mom Nichole Hunt “very suddenly” split from her partner last year, she knew it wouldn’t be much of a Christmas for her young son.A few months after the devastating break-up in July 2014, she decided to move from Trail back to Nelson to be closer to friends and family.While the big move cut her “pretty short” financially — especially since it fell right before Christmas — it was the best decision for her and Lucian, now two-and-a-half-years-old.“It was kind of the choice of moving closer to be able to have a family support system again, or stay isolated in Trail,” the 32-year-old mom told The Province. “So I decided that it would be more beneficial to be around people than to worry about the gift part of Christmas.”

The newly-single mom was “scrambling to try and cover rent and utilities and baby things” when a friend referred her to the Salvation Army in Nelson — one of 27 community organizations sponsored by The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund, now in its 97th year.She registered for the Christmas Assistance program and ended up getting sponsored by a family. She not only received a food hamper — filled with all the fixings for a traditional Christmas dinner — but also a number of toy gifts and a bag of gently-used clothes for Lucian.“I was blown away by it,” Hunt said. “It was really amazing.”

And that goodwill continues to propel her forward even today.“It put a light in me,” Hunt said, adding that when her relationship fell apart — and before she was connected with the agency — she believes she was falling into depression.“It was almost paralyzing for the first couple months,” she said. “(It was) really hard to like try and be lively with my little one and still try to figure out what the next step was.”But when the Salvation Army stepped in, it pushed her out of that “sad place” and she’s “consistently been moving ahead in life” ever since.“It really raised my spirits, I started socializing again more and branched out and made some of my own friends,” Hunt said. “I participated again in just life.”

She and Lucian got involved in mom and baby groups and Hunt enrolled in courses to complete her grade 12 diploma. She hopes to eventually go to college to become a care aide.“It all just kind of really worked out,” Hunt said of her progress within the last year. “It’s been really good.”And while it was difficult to admit she needed the help at the time, “it was the only way that we would have had any Christmas last year,” she said.So she hopes sharing her “humbling experience” will encourage those in need to reach out.“If even just one person is able to not feel ashamed and just go and bite the bullet and accept that, in these times of the year especially, that it can really make a difference, then that’s cool,” she said.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of corporate sponsors, local business and community supproters and, of course, Province readers, the Empty Stocking Fund raised more than $347,000 last year. That money helps associated agencies, like the Salvation Army, buy gifts and food hampers for families and singles across B.C.

Story Credit: Larissa Cahute, The Province