In 1967 a group of caring individuals in Belleville raised the funds to send 350 under-privileged children by train to Expo ‘67 in Montreal. More than half a century later the Christmas Sharing Program has evolved into its current form where close to 4,000 adults and children receive assistance with food costs over the holiday season.
The Christmas Sharing Program is a Canadian registered charity governed by a volunteer Board of Directors consisting of a cross-section of community-minded individuals. We rely on the generosity of the local community and do not receive any government funding. Donations of $20 or more are tax-deductible. Funds have also traditionally been generated by a sponsored walk along the Belleville waterfront in September, a turkey bingo in December, various choral concerts and many speaking engagements and interviews throughout the season. The Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed many of these activities.
The area covered by the Program are within the following boundaries: the City of Belleville, including Thurlow Township as far east as Shannonville and not including the Tyendinaga Territory; as far west as White’s Road and south to Ameliasburg Township. All low-income individuals and families residing within these boundaries are encouraged to apply for assistance. Anyone wishing to apply from outside these boundaries is referred to the appropriate program in their home community.
Early in September we launch the annual fund-raising campaign. Letters of appeal are mailed to community groups, schools, churches and individuals who have supported the Christmas Sharing Program in the past. Meetings are held with other agencies and programs so that supports can be coordinated throughout the community.
In October our volunteers begin the process of registering families and individuals for the Program by going out to take applications at social housing complexes, the food bank and a church lunch program. In 2020 this process changed to telephone contacts with last year’s clients in order to follow public health guidance. A combination of outreach and telephone contacts will take place in 2021. Qualifying families will be referred to the Fire Fighters Toy Drive for children 10 and under. Individuals will be offered a referral for a meal on Christmas Day.
The on-line registration form on this website goes live on November 1st and ends on November 30th. Volunteers will also be taking applications for walk-ins at the office in Century Village during week days in the month of November. Social distancing and public health protocols will be practiced with screening of all visitors to the office required before entering the office. Volunteers and staff will strive to protect the privacy and confidentiality of applicants’ information with sensitivity and respect while protecting the integrity of the Program.
Registration ends on the last business day of November and the task of matching families with our many community sponsors begins. Lists of those eligible for the toy drive and Christmas dinner are provided to the relevant contacts and volunteers are recruited to assist with the meal on Christmas day. Usually there are more volunteers than positions to fill – another indication of the generosity of the local community. The delivery of food boxes and pick-up of grocery gift cards and toys occurs a few days before the big day, wrapping up another busy season for the Program.
Our volunteers are endlessly compassionate and generous. They come from a variety of backgrounds with the common goal of helping their community. The Christmas Sharing Program would be unable to function without their loyal support. Please check out the rest of our website to find out how you can help.
The Christmas Sharing Program depends entirely on Donations from the community. We do not get any funding from any other source. To find out how you can support the program click the link below to be directed to our donation page.