Staff at Donna Sarna Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation are hoping to make things a little brighter for moms and children who will be spending the upcoming holiday season at a shelter.
For the seventh year in a row, the Corydon Avenue clinic will be distributing gifts to families and individuals in crisis.
Clinic staff have teamed up with the Institute of Dance of Manitoba on St. Mary’s Road to collect donations of new items for gift bags to be given to women and children who will be staying at a shelter for Christmas.
Lisa Mills Hutton, a physiotherapist at the clinic, said the initiative was started seven years ago by the clinic’s office manager.
Having done work on behalf of her church, the manager noticed kids at shelters often received gifts during the holidays, while mothers and other women had to do without.
The clinic decided to put together gift bags for those women, and has continued doing so each year since.
Initially, the clinic asked only for donations for women. However, people began to donate items for children and the program was eventually expanded to include youngsters, Mills Hutton said.
The program provided gifts to one shelter during its first year but has since grown to include six additional shelters.
"Last year we gave 140 gifts to women and 100 gifts for children," said Mills Hutton, a River Heights resident.
Mills Hutton added that many of the donations are from the clinic’s clients, but it also receives items from the community at large.
Now that it has partnered with the Institute of Dance, Mills Hutton said the clinic has been receiving even more donations from the St. Vital area.
"It’s helped us get more items and give to more shelters," she said.
The clinic has given to Alpha House, Ikew-widdjiitiwin, Osborne House, W.I.S.H. Inc., L’Entre-temps des Franco-Manitobaines Inc., Villa Rosa, Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre and the Native Women’s Transition Centre.
Although clinic staff don’t get to meet recipients, Mills Hutton said shelter directors have passed along their gratitude.
"We get cards and thank you (calls) from them. It definitely helps with their Christmas plans. I think a lot of them would get funding for the children’s gifts but not for the women’s gifts," she said.
Mills Hutton said donations will be collected until Dec. 20. Clinic staff will wrap the gifts on Dec. 21 and distribute them afterwards.
Suggested donations for moms include lotions, bath gels, shampoos and other toiletries, makeup, gloves, hats and scarves, books and magazines, chocolates and candies.
Organizers ask that candles and toiletries which contain alcohol not be included in any donations.
Donations can be dropped off at Donna Sarna Physiotherapy, located at 102-897 Corydon Ave., or the Institute of Dance of Manitoba at 1604 St. Mary’s Rd.