Salvation Army helps fill the gaps for working single mom

by British Columbia
Categories: Uncategorized

For one Victoria mother without sick-leave benefits, a seasonal cold means the space under the Christmas tree can be sparse.

Tyra, 35, is a home-support worker who has never been on social assistance but still finds herself turning to places like the Salvation Army at Christmas to help fill the gaps.

“I’m a single parent and unfortunately, when I’m sick or my kids are sick, I can’t go to work,” she said.

This year, she and one of her daughters both got strep throat at the beginning of December.

“Over two weeks, I could only make it to four shifts … it made an impact on the paycheque that comes right around Christmas.”

Tyra was able to pick out toys for her youngest daughter after being directed to the Salvation Army by the Christmas Giving Network.

The network is an umbrella organization that ensures aid is distributed fairly, by offering co-ordination among different agencies. Those agencies include the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, Salvation Army, Mustard Seed, St. Vincent de Paul and Sooke Christmas Bureau & Sooke Harborside Lions.

“I literally walked into this room full of toys that was honestly a bit overwhelming, but also exciting, because there are so many options. You can find something geared specifically to your kid,” she said.

While her three kids — 11, 17 and 19 — made almost no requests this Christmas, she did find one toy on her youngest’s list.

“The one thing my daughter asked for was the pie-face game, which I found here,” she said.

The holiday season has provided a big financial struggle, but it doesn’t mean the rest of the year is easy. In the past 10 years, Tyra said she has experienced the cost of living skyrocketing in Victoria, when her wage has not.

She’s not alone. Housing affordability and the cost of living were identified as the biggest priorities to Greater Victorians in the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs survey this year.

Her eldest daughter contributes to the rent, which is $1,900 per month — one of the few places under $2,000 they could find big enough for the entire family. By the time Tyra pays rent and bills, she only has a bit left over for groceries and other expenses, she said.

“I’m pretty much paycheque-to-paycheque right now, so this is a huge, huge help.”