When people first discover Regina Christmas Wish List (RCWL), they are frequently curious to learn more.
Here are some of the most common questions.
Q) HOW DID THIS PROJECT START?
In October 2005, Dan & Jennie (a Vancouver couple) were having breakfast at a local café. Noticing a man pushing a shopping cart nearby, they bought some extra items on their way out the door and proceeded to offer him a morning meal. Sitting down together, they were fascinated to hear some of his story: Where he’d come from, how he’d arrived here, along with some of his present challenges and future dreams. They left that short conversation, feeling a renewed sense of connection toward and compassion for a complete stranger. It dawned on them that everyone has a story, and the differences between ours are seldom far less than we first imagine.
In the weeks to follow, they initiated interviews and gift requests with a couple local shelters, and the seeds of Christmas Wish List had been planted!
In the years that followed, such initiatives spread to cities throughout Western Canada and some of the western states, gathered beneath the banner of Homeless Partners. Our Regina project (started in 2008) operated as part of that group until reorganization and rebranding in 2018, when we officially became Regina Christmas Wish List.
Q) WHAT’S WITH THESE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS?
RCWL is facilitated by Glen Elm Church of Christ — we help it happen. But we couldn’t do it without local partnering organizations. They are the ones on the front lines, involving themselves in the daily needs and struggles of the impoverished and the marginalized within our city.
Our partnering organizations identify people within their circles, who would be suitable candidates for this project. In this sense, every person or family featured on the website is personally known through our partnering organizations. This provides us the ability to function with integrity and accountability, while providing donors confidence that the stories they read are true and the gifts they give are personally delivered into the hands of the ones who’ve made the request.
Q) WHY DO SOME STORIES HAVE INITIALS INSTEAD OF NAMES?
Some of our partner organizations do work that requires extra levels of security or confidentiality for those they serve. In these cases, stories are identified with initials or pseudonyms, rather than names. Partner organizations keep detailed records to ensure that the right gifts are delivered into the right hands, when Christmas arrives.
Q) WHY DO SO MANY REQUEST GIFT CARDS?
We recognize that many consider gift cards something of an impersonal gift, the likes of which we wouldn’t consider giving to those we love most. However, there’s another way of seeing this.
Gift cards provide an unusual privilege to those who request them, the freedom to walk into a store with the ability to browse and then select exactly what they want. Many of us take that type of freedom for granted, but you know that special joy there is to shopping for oneself? When one seldom gets the chance to do it, the opportunity provided by a gift card feels downright luxurious!
Q) CAN I GIVE USED ITEMS?
We know there are many instances when secondhand items are in fantastic shape, even just like new. However, we typically insist that gifts for RCWL be brand new. This allows us to ensure the quality of the gifts being received. It also makes an emphatic statement of care to the recipients. Individuals and families being featured on this site live much of their lives, making do with charity or hand-me-downs. There is something exciting and affirming to opening up a brand-new item that’s been specifically chosen for them. We like helping that happen!
Q) DO YOU TAKE DONATIONS?
While RCWL is not a registered charity, it does function as a work of Glen Elm Church of Christ. Financial donations toward the development and maintenance of our website can be made through the church.
The most common form of support for RCWL is through reading stories and giving gifts. However, if you would like to donate items or cash to be used on your behalf, contact us HERE to see what is possible.
Q) WHY BOTHER WITH STORIES?
There are many charities meeting many needs at Christmas time. If you wish to mail a cheque or place a toy in a bin, there are many options!
RCWL is different for a reason. We believe that stories are powerful in increasing understanding, stirring compassion, and generating connection between people. As readers interact with the stories and requests on the website, they feel a sense of care toward local strangers.
Individuals and families annually tell us of how their Christmas traditions have changed since becoming engaged with RCWL. Parents now take their children shopping to buy gifts for other children. Couples who feel their needs are already met choose to redirect money from one another, to tangibly meet the needs of impoverished “neighbours” of whom they are now aware.
Someone has said, “Story is what connects us and binds us to each other.” We believe that, and we are happy to help it happen.