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Holidays a time for giving

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Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence Toet with other participants at the 2013 CEO Sleepout in support of poverty reduction initiatives within Winnipeg.

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Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence Toet with other participants at the 2013 CEO Sleepout in support of poverty reduction initiatives within Winnipeg. Photo Store

The holiday season is often considered to be the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time of traditions, celebrations, and renewed connections with family and friends.

For some in our community who are less fortunate, it can also be a challenging time. For the charitable groups that deliver the services to those most in need, this time of year is especially challenging, as the demand climbs for their continued help and assistance.

People in our community are known for their generosity and they continue to give what they can. It’s important for us to be aware that during the holiday season, more than ever, community groups need our support and every helping hand can make a difference.

I have had the opportunity to meet and discuss the challenges that many of our support groups in Elmwood and Transcona are faced with in our city. Groups like Chili from the Heart work to feed chili dinners to the homeless.

The Riverwood Church is a key part of our community with activities like the Kidz Club, which allows children in Elmwood to connect with community mentors and participate in crafts, games, and dance activities. They also offer a food bank along with a community drop-in centre for those in need of a warm meal and companionship.

The Transcona Food Bank is another organization that is helping those in need this holiday season. The volunteer-run organization recently marked 25 years in the community and is operated out of the Transcona Memorial United Church. The food bank helps families with less put food on their tables and accepts donations year-round.

This fall, I participated in the CEO Sleepout, an event organized by the Downtown BIZ that brings together community leaders to raise awareness about homelessness in our city, and as part of that I visited many of the outreach facilities in downtown Winnipeg.

I attended the opening of the Living Gospel Church Family Place, which features housing units for low-income refugee and immigrant families. On behalf of our government, I also attended the opening of Pan Am Place, which provides transitional housing and services to at-risk male youth who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

We know that charitable organizations like these make our community stronger. With that, I encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering to make our community even more vibrant this holiday season.

Merry Christmas.

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