Here’s Why Your Holiday Donations Really Matter – And It’s Not What You Might Think

December 11, 2018

An interview with Joelle Mar, Director of Resource Development at the Inn.

Joelle Mar is the Director of Resource Development at Inn from the Cold, gathering donations from people just like you to help homeless families exit homelessness and into a place to call their own. The holidays can produce a lot of financial and emotional stress for many families, but that isn’t the main reason your contributions matter so much during the holidays.

“Before Inn from the Cold, there wasn’t a place for homeless families to go together. Mothers and children would have to go to a separate shelter from their partners each night. We recognized the extreme stress families were experiencing in this situation and know it is best to keep them together as a family unit,” Mar says. Regardless of the season, no child should experience homelessness.

From humble beginnings after church parishioners and staff began seeing an increase in families seeking shelter at St. Stephens Anglican Church – individuals began taking up residence under the entry stairs to families sleeping in their car in the church parking lot– the operation that is driven to give children and their families a home continues to grow, as does the need for the shelter. “We have 33 families in our care tonight (Dec. 7, 2018) and are assisting many more in the community to ensure that they remain housed.”

The shelter wasn’t initially set up to house children but has been transformed to provide emergency shelter for 27 families.

Many people are unaware, but giving families temporary shelter, providing necessities for physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing costs more than you might expect. “We needed to raise $5.5 million for The Inn aside from government funding,” Mar says, “but those were projected numbers based on a 2017 budget,” she adds. “This year we’ve been operating at-or-over capacity 89 percent of the time.”

Amazingly, 70 percent of contributions for operations come from people just like you – individuals, foundations, families, corporations, churches, schools, and service clubs and the like are 70 percent responsible for having sheltered, fed, and eventually housing all of the families the Inn has taken in through the year, while only 30 percent comes from government funding.

“An amazing 13 percent of all charitable giving happens in the last part of the year if you have not made your charitable gift this year, or you are looking to make a special holiday donation, consider making one to build a better tomorrow for a homeless child,” says Mar.

Obviously important to Calgarians, Mar believes the impact the community has on giving children the future they deserve is immeasurable. For example, their Crescent Point Kidz Zone or the new Youth Zone gives children and youth the space and support they need to become successful and well-rounded members of society too. “When families are on the verge or are homeless, parents are focused on providing safety and shelter, not on teaching 123s and ABCs.”

Thanks to donors, we able to provide dedicated spaces and intentional programming for children and teens while in our shelter.

Being part of the Inn is a source of pride for Mar. “Thanks to our donors we are able to prevent homeless children and their families from having no place to go.”

While grateful, due to the unprecedented and growing numbers of families in need throughout the entire year, Mar and the entire staff at the Inn encourage Calgarians to continue supporting the Inn so families in need can be cared for in their time of crisis


To donate today, please click here. Don’t forget that any amount helps, and donations of $10 or more are eligible for tax receipts. To receive tax benefits in the upcoming tax season donations need to be made by 11:59 PM on December 31, 2018.