Before Dan Johnstone, perhaps better known as Can Man Dan, was helping those on need by raising money for the Edmonton Food Bank, he was on the receiving end of the community’s kindness.
“Adopt-A-Teen was there for my brother and I many times over the years and they were nothing short of a Godsend," said Johnstone, honourary chair of the 2015 Adopt-A-Teen campaign.
Johnstone’s mother was juggling multiple jobs trying to "make ends meet" supporting her two sons on her own, but like too many Edmonton families, "more often than not, we just couldn’t connect those ends."
Extras like Christmas gifts were simply out of reach.
"When it came to Christmas, it brought nothing but stress and sadness to my mother, who often placed the blame on herself for our lack of presents and Christmas spirit. Thankfully there were programs such as the Christmas Bureau, Santas Anonymous and Adopt-A-Teen that helped my Mother bring a smile to her children’s faces and saved Christmas for us," said Johnstone.
While it was only a $50 Walmart gift card, Johnstone and his brother felt like "a million bucks" marching from aisle to aisle picking out long coveted items. Other times they would use their gift card to give something special to their mother.
Since 1999, Adopt-A-Teen has been working with the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton and 630 CHED Santas Anonymous to make sure no family has to go without over the holidays.
The Christmas Bureau offers a holiday meal, inviting families to gather together around the table, while Santas Anonymous puts presents under the tree for children in need up to the age of 12.
Adopt-A-Teen provides a $50 Walmart gift card for teens between the ages of 13 and 17 who otherwise would be left out. Some spend it on long-coveted items that otherwise would have been unaffordable, others buy much needed warm winter clothes or school supplies, some choose to spend it on their families.
The choice is theirs, thanks to you.
Last year, generous donors like you made it possible to put a $50 gift card under the tree for more than 8,600 teens in need in Edmonton, but this year, more than ever, we need your help to ensure no one goes without this Christmas.
As Johnstone can attest, your kindness will not soon be forgotten.