Volunteers Give Holiday Hope

by Ontario Central East
Categories: Divisional News

By: June Li

Organizations like The Salvation Army rely on volunteers to operate supportive programs that are offered year-round. From serving meals, helping with painting projects, hosting games nights to sorting donations, volunteers help restore dignity and hope in people’s lives. Throughout the year, there’s a great need for helping hands, especially during the holidays. For The Gateway, a 120-bed men shelter in Downtown Toronto, volunteers help keep the day-to-day operations running well.

“It isn’t uncommon for The Gateway staff to have their hands full around Christmas and volunteers play a special role in helping us provide the best support possible to those who need it the most ” says Stacey Gordon, Community Relations Specialist at The Gateway. During the holidays, many residents may not have family or friends to spend time with. The Gateway’s drop-in program, open 5 days a week to men and women, 21 years and over, gives individuals a safe place to experience community and enjoy a warm meal. Volunteers not only provide extra assistance serving meals, but they let community members know that they are cared for during a season that may be particularly lonely.
Volunteers come from all walks of life. “Everyone has the opportunity to serve as long as they are willing and open,” Gordon says, “I enjoy getting to know our volunteers during the orientation process and look to match them with an opportunity that suits personal interest. No matter your skill set the door is always open and we will work together to find a volunteer role that is a good fit”.

The work of volunteers not only benefits those they serve, but it can create a meaningful experience for them as well. For Brian, his grandfather’s experience with The Salvation Army inspired him to volunteer. “Volunteering has become a necessary part of life,” says Brian, “When I first started volunteering, I didn’t realize how good it would feel to make a difference in someone’s life, even if it is just for a few minutes”. Five years later, Brian continues to volunteer at The Gateway and is now pursuing an education in social corporate responsibility.

If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website and submit a volunteer form. Looking to give back this holiday season? Become a Bell Ringer and help spread hope this Christmas!