WHAT THEY DO:
Founded 84 years ago to support the North End's poor Jewish immigrant community, Mount Carmel is now a key health and social support resource for low-income Winnipeggers. It features primary health care, social work, a 40-space daycare and other programs.
HOPES FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
Mount Carmel's Anne Ross Day Nursery is a blessing for inner-city parents, with its subsidized spots, hot lunch program and commitment to early education.
But the daycare's building, situated just north of the clinic's main complex, isn't so endearing.
"The facility is really showing the wear and tear of day in and day out," said Glenda Birney-Evans, executive director of the Mount Carmel Clinic Foundation.
"It wasn't really designed to current standards... It's not accessible, and there have been handicapped children in the program."
To help bring some cheer to the daycare's kids and attract more child-care workers, Mount Carmel wants to fix the aging facility.
A big renovation is planned, including an upgraded playground, bright new exterior and interior, and wheelchair-accessible grounds.
Mount Carmel is largely funded by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, with the province kicking in for child-care costs.
But its non-profit budget doesn't leave much wiggle-room for big capital projects.
To raise the $850,000 needed for everything on the daycare's "wish list," such as a special reading room and a stroller drop-off, Mount Carmel relies on its foundation.
Birney-Evans hopes Winnipeggers will take the daycare's fundraising to the finish line this holiday season: Another $75,000 in donations will mean enough cash in the kitty to start construction in April.
"Right now, we just want to get that daycare renovated, and get those kids in a good environment," she said.
"If you can help them get a good start, it can change their future."
HOW TO HELP:
Donations, including money or gently used sneakers, winter boots and other family footwear for families in need can be made online (www.mountcarmel.ca) or in person at 886 Main St.
You can also buy the clinic's fundraising children's book Monty's Alphabet Adventure for $9.95 at McNally Robinson or Chapters.
-- Melissa Martin