"LIVING YOUR GIFT"

Dear Community Members:

 
Our Canvassing Objective

Thank you for your interest in the EvenStart Foundation's mission to help economically-disadvantaged children. As indicated by our name, our purpose is to give children who come from homes of abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and poverty, a chance for an ‘even start’ with their more fortunate peers, i.e., to be on a more equal educational footing with them, upon entering Grade One.

 

Our Organizational Mandate

The children currently under our preschool care range in ages from 2 ½ to 6 years of age. Many of these children also have younger sisters and brothers (birth to 3 years of age). We supply clothing to our children and to their siblings, on an ‘as needed basis’. This is not specifically our mandate but we feel it is a very necessary adjunct to the programs and services we provide because of the glaring material needs of these children that we witness each day.

For example, we have children who come to us in mid-winter months with bare legs, raincoats and sandals instead of proper warm attire. They mostly need jeans and pants, but they all need seasonal coats and gloves, as well as rain and winter boots. They need underwear and many come to us not yet toilet trained (yes, even the older ones)! We go through diapers, training pants and pull-ups regularly.

! How much the rest of us take for granted in our own stable, secure, and happy homes !

Most of these children come to us hungry each day and have not eaten a proper meal since their last time with us the day before. As we feed them twice in either a morning or afternoon session.

There is a sector of children in our city who suffer emotional, physical and intellectual indignities that most of us could never comprehend. The home environments from which these children ‘at risk’ come, are places unfamiliar to the rest of us in society.

One child, just aged four, apprehended by Child Welfare Services from his own family, is placed in innumerable foster homes, he asks, from teary eyes, "why can’t I have a daddy and mommy of my own"??? These children have no resting heart rate – they are constantly in ‘fear and flight mode’ and they know nothing of protective environments. We see, hear and feel the effects of their poverty when these children come to us with poor coping skills, constantly anxious in emotional turmoil, and with severe behavioral issues that put them at risk for success in school and thus in life.

They are a forgotten population in our midst, and being children, they are most vulnerable and helpless. Without grassroots causes, such as ours, concerted help and thereby a hope to make a difference, is futile.

At EvenStart, we maintain a very low cost of administration in our provision of educational services and intervention treatments for these children. By virtue of this fact, we cannot easily afford to expend dollars on the purchase of new clothing, books, toys, etc. We utilize our very finite resources instead, in the area of ‘special needs’ providing highly-qualified expert and professional treatment by speech pathologists and occupational therapists. We have a clinical psychologist on staff and every child has a case management plan to customize our attention and programs to fit their unique, specific needs.

We have children at the age of three and four who still cannot or will not speak; and others who seek a place to hide in the safety of a corner cubby, who avoid direct eye contact and cry at the slightest touch—afraid of anyone who comes near them. Many have never seen a child’s story book, let alone are able to read. These are vital aspects of the daily care and sustenance we provide, along with the caring, loving attention we offer them.

Clothing and books ….such items are treasures to these kids and have the power to wonderfully raise hopeful young spirits and afford the opportunity to escape the numbing want in their lives. They are luxuries to these children, yet part of everyday, normal childhood for our own children, that we too often take for granted.

So now we ask concerned community members to help us in multiple areas of need.

 

How can your family ‘live your gift’?

If you choose this as your charity, then all year long you can think about it as if it were another family member.
You can live your generosity in small daily or monthly moments, incorporating small measures into larger family routines.

Your family’s continued awareness of others, can counterbalance and offset this society’s tendency to often nuclearize its families into suburban isolation, where our own children have plenty yet are cutoff from the real world of suffering and sadness in the pockets of poverty beyond them. It can become second nature for us all, as families, to put aside for an ‘extended family’—such as the special needs children at EvenStart, here in our own city.

The size of gift does not matter. Your donation can be large in heart.
Anyone in your family can contribute on any scale. For example, $1 from popcorn money (put into a saving jar towards a Xmas Hamper food coupon) can be a form of sponsorship by even the youngest in your family.

As enlightened parents, 'being a responsible part of the social fabric' is what we strive to teach our children. What better way to show them that they can share their over-abundant bounty (a reality in many Calgary households) with their less fortunate peers, and perhaps impact a life in the process.
The little life that you help today, WILL remember your kindness well beyond their childhood years, as your generosity makes a tangible difference to their lives.

In the aggregate, we can all make an incremental difference. Not just to alleviating such needs, but in breaking cycles that perpetuate self-defeating behaviors and attitudes in families caught in the spiraling defeat of poverty .

Your help—no matter the size, can be widely appreciated and powerful in its effect.
The message you send then becomes clear to a recipient child:
"Someone does actually care about me".
"I count for something."
"I have value."
And, even if not demonstrated by their own family (disconnected by the ravages of poverty), "I am loved"!

In-Kind Contributions:

Here are some examples of possible family-based projects you can adopt in ‘living your gift’…

  • Put aside a corner in your family’s garage or basement to collect consumables for EvenStart program children. Even if only once or twice a year, we can pick up your family’s banked contribution.
  • Once a month, when going through the grocery line, add an extra box of tissues or a small bag of disposable diapers or pull-ups. This can be little that would cause financial stretch to your family, but can seamlessly add to your growing philanthropic supply.
  • It can be a family project to save up for an annual Christmas Hamper for a challenged family, one loonie at a time. After you have collected $20 in a kids kitty (savings jar), buy a Safeway coupon card for a child’s family. Put it in an envelope and add it to your Christmas Hamper stash.
Thank you from the EvenStart Children!