Above: Morinville Marvelous Moms Adopt-a-Family volunteer and sponsorship organizer Robin Alley-Buchner holds this year’s campaign poster at Higher Grounds, one of several drop off locations in Morinville.
by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Marvelous Moms Adopt-a-Family initiative is in its seventh season of giving to families that could use extra help at Christmas.
Both Shell gas stations, Higher Grounds, The Flower Stop, Animal Wellness Veterinary Clinic, The Meadows of Morinville Community Center, GV’s Salon, Fable Daycare, Nourish, Skinsational, and ATB have collection boxes.
In particular, there is a need for donations of toiletries and food with a particular need for grocery store gift cards to help families buy fresh foods that the program does not deliver.
Organizer and founding member Sarah Hall said the campaign started seven years ago when a local mom approached her to help another local family that needed some things for Christmas. Hall’s friend was unable to meet the family’s needs alone and asked Hall to assist with the giving.
They decided to go one better and reach out to the Morinville Marvelous Moms Facebook group to see if the assistance could be farther reaching in the community.
“We posted it, and through that process we had more families coming through,” Hall said. “We had 13 families that year that we were able to help through the Moms group.”
The intake is no longer purely through the group. Now, most of the referrals come through family support workers, school counsellors and some self-nominations.
“Most of them [referals] are coming from professionals in the area that are identifying families that need help,” Hall said.
Items will be wrapped this year at Jandel Homes Meadows of Morinville location with the assistance of volunteers, including area 4H members and local soccer players and coaches.
The hampers will be delivered Dec. 22 and 23.
“As we go the process gets better, the organization gets better; the volunteers get better because they already know what the process is,” Hall said.
One volunteer who has been with the initiative for the past three or four years is Robin Alley-Buchner. For Alley-Buchner there is a real sense of knowing what it is like to struggle that is part of the motivation to give back.
“At 19 you think you have the world figured out but moving across Canada and layoffs – we knew first hand what it was like to want to give your child the world,” she said. “We would sell things to buy food because pride got in the way and asking for help was out of the question.”
Alley-Buchner said the first year helping was like watching a beautiful play where everyone had a task and Adopt a family gave Christmas to so many families in our community. In her second year, she got more involved and took part in some of the shopping.
“[It] was an overwhelming experience to see all those carts lined up knowing they were helping someone,” she said. “Then last year was the year that really stuck with me. Shopping and wrapping and being more involved with the process, seeing the look on someone’s face when they knew they were going to be helped. The relief in their eyes. Your eyes can speak a million words. It makes everything so worth it.”
It was in that moment Alley-Buchner knew the cause was something she wanted to help and try her best to change someone’s Christmas.
Some personal troubles this year left Alley-Buchner not wanting to get out of bed most days. Supportive friends in her network lifted her and was the push she needed to remind her of many things.
One of those things was Adopt-a-Family.
“Life happens and situations happen and I know first hand what it’s like,” Alley-Buchner said. “So, thank you to everyone that has ever helped me because you will never know what you ever did for us.”
For more information on the Morinville Marvelous Moms Adopt-a-Family initiative call 780-231-6682 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.