Women in shelters get valentines from Edmonton Sikh community

Women in shelters across the Edmonton region will receive a special valentine’s package on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine cards from local schoolchildren will accompany close to 300 packages of chocolate and teddy bears as they are delivered to three shelters by the Sikh community of Edmonton on Thursday.

“Our mission is basically just to put some smiles on the people in the shelters,” said Jessy Nerval, the program’s project leader.

The Lurana Centre and Wings of Providence in Edmonton and Safe Place in Sherwood Park will be receiving the valentine’s gifts alongside a number of daily care items that have been collected by the community.

Abby Gauthier, the director of programs with Safe Place, said it’s amazing to see the valentine donation. She said donations, especially on Valentine’s Day, are always welcome at the centre.

“It’s so cool because the fact that people would consider women in shelters for a holiday like Valentine’s Day, where normally women and children in a shelter wouldn’t be considered,” said Gauthier.

The third annual donation drive is part of the One Billion Rising movement which aims to end violence against women.

“Our mission is basically just to put some smiles on the people in the shelters and we’ve been doing that successfully, so mission accomplished,” said Nerval.

The Edmonton gift drive is part of a national donation drive being organized by the World Sikh Organization of Canada. Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver will be holding similar events.

Nerval said the Sikh community is hoping to continue the program next year. Edmontonians looking to help out with next year’s donations can look for boxes in the time leading up to Valentine’s Day.

“Helping us with the pickups once the donations are closed, helping us wrap the gifts, helping us deliver the gifts, and just telling friends and families about the initiative are all great ways to help,” said Nerval.

dshort@postmedia.com

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