For the past six, Unity Project invited Londoners to hear the telling of Charles Dickens classic yuletide tale, A Christmas Carol, with the assistance of the now defunct Orchestra London.
The event was an important fundraiser for the shelter with thousands of people from all walks of life enjoying the show by donation at the door.
Unfortunately, last year’s event was also Orchestra London’s final concert on Dec. 10, 2014.
“The loss was a significant blow,” said Silvia Langer, Unity Project’s development director. “It left a deep hole in London’s heart and a $30,000 hole in Unity Project’s budget.”
Now, the emergency shelter (719 Dundas St.) is making an urgent appeal, telling the tale of the crisis of homelessness and inspiring support to help those experiencing it to have a home for the holidays.
“Unity Project supports one-sixth of London’s 333 shelter beds in London, but is probably Canada’s largest home-like, participatory program. We are always working to improve the best practices we employ,” said Chuck Lazenby, Unity Project’s executive director. “We have 45 to 50 people a night here and multiple episodes of drop-in crisis support daily. We have a high staff to resident ratio and wrap our services around each person. What we lack in an economy of scale, we gain in the economy of better outcomes for the people we serve and the community that sustains us.”
Unity’s Home for the Holidays campaign will offer meaningful giving opportunities.
- Philanthropic Friendsy. Each gift made now to end of Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1 earns a matching gift from Lina and Chris Bowden of the Cambia Development Foundation, up to $5,000. To donate visit www.unityproject.ca and click on the Giving Tuesday image.
- Giving Tuesday Open House. Dec. 1, from 3:30-6:30 p.m., Unity Project welcomes the public to drop off donations, tour the facility, and enjoy a duet from #WePlayOnMusicians Joe Lanza and Jennifer Short from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Donations can include anything from socks, underwear, hats, mitts, coats, or financial contributions.
- Santa Sacks. Help put something special under the tree for those without a home or family of their own. Eighty-five backpacks donated by Debco Solutions will be stuffed full of practical, fun, and luxury items. Individuals, families, church/employee/sports groups are invited to host donation drives to collect bulk items. To get involved and for more details visit www.unityproject.ca/donate.
- 3rd Annual Carols by Candlelight. Set for the Wolf Performance Hall on Sunday Dec. 20, beginning at 3 p.m. (doors open at 2 p.m. for the Silent Auction). Advance tickets: adults $20, seniors and arts workers $15, students $10. Visit tickets.grandtheatre.com and click the date for more info and to purchase tickets.
- Raising the Roof to End Homelessness. For the second year Unity Project is Raising the Roof’s local London partner, joining corporate partners Paul Davis and Intact Financial in this campaign to end homelessness in Canada. Buy a toque and get ready for Toque Tuesday on Feb. 2, 2016. For more, phone 519-433-8700 ext 2.
“Homelessness is a crisis that a person experiences; not an adjective to define a person,” Lazenby said. “Unity Project works to stabilize people in their moment of crisis and to engage them in their own processes toward stability utilizing all available community resources. People experiencing homelessness need our community’s respect, compassion and help. Please give.”