Closeup of an older man wearing a knitted cap
December 2023

Hope in Action

It’s Christmas, the season of hope. In this issue, learn how your support makes the holiday special for guests, while helping them navigate the sadness and challenges the season can bring.

From all of us at Ray of Hope, thank you for making hope happen. May you and yours have a blessed and happy Christmas!

Blurred figures stand behind a bush with Christmas ornaments hanging on its bare branches

The face of hope at Christmas

How Community Centre staff balance celebration with sensitivity during the holiday season

For many of us, Christmas is a season of special meals, holiday outings and presents. Most of all, it’s a time to celebrate with friends and family. But for the people that Ray of Hope serves, Christmas is often filled with feelings of sadness and isolation.

Many of our guests have lost contact with their loved ones. Sometimes it’s because their families no longer know how to deal with their mental health or substance misuse issues. Sometimes it’s because they’re refugees, separated from their loved ones by war or natural disasters. And sometimes it’s because they just can’t afford to go home.

We know we can’t fix the loneliness and trauma our guests feel. But thanks to your support, we can give them compassion, respect and hope this Christmas.

A group of people in red shirts and Santa hats serve food at a soup kitchenChristmas at the ROHCC

Knowing that this may not be “the most wonderful time of the year” for everyone, staff at the Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) try to balance celebration with sensitivity.

Program Director Dan Wideman describes how, with the help of volunteer meal teams, the ROHCC will serve several festive meals over the holidays. There will be a few decorations in the dining room and Christmas carols in the chapel. And thanks to a new partnership with Project Impacting Lives, guests will receive winter care packages that include warm gloves, durable socks, lip balm, and emergency blankets to help them withstand the harsh winter.

Lifestyle evangelism

Dan explains that ROHCC guests come from a variety of faiths, and many have no religious affiliation at all. So, while Ray of Hope is proud to be a Christian organization, staff members don’t force guests to accept Christian beliefs or celebrate Christmas. Instead, they practice “lifestyle evangelism.”

“People watch how you act and interact with them,” Dan says, noting that once guests trust staff, they may begin to ask questions that open the door to discussions about faith. “We try to see everyone as an individual, deserving of respect.”

Silhouette of a person standing under a bridge in the snow

“We’ll be here”

While most social service programs and services close at some point over the holiday season, the ROHCC will continue to provide meals, essential services and spiritual care, just as it does every day of the year.

“People on the street don’t get a day off for Christmas, so we’ll be here for them,” Dan says. “This is one of the main reasons we stay open — we provide consistency in people’s lives.”

ROHCC staff recently began to increase outreach efforts, with special emphasis on supporting guests with sobriety and housing. A staff member now dedicates about half his working hours to helping guests navigate partner agencies, attend meetings and travel to appointments. Ray of Hope is working toward making this a full-time position in the future.

“If you have someone walking with you, you have more chance of making change,” Dan says. “We are trying to be people who present the face of hope.”

How you can help this Christmas

Would you also like to be a face of hope this Christmas? There are many ways to help.

Provide and serve a meal. Gather members of your faith group, your teammates or co-workers and volunteer as a team. You can also volunteer as an individual. Contact Volunteer Services Manager Jaime Wright for more information.

Support the Marketplace by donating some of our most-needed grocery and personal hygiene items. Some groups choose to donate gift cards that staff use to purchase items. See this month’s most needed items below.

Give online to purchase meals or to support the area of greatest need using our secure donation form.

Thank you for everything you do for our guests ­­— at Christmas and all year round!

On February 24, let’s warm the Coldest Night

Save the date for Coldest Night of the Year 2024. Coldest Night of the Year is a Canada-wide fundraiser to support charities that serve people experiencing hurt, hunger and homelessness.

The Kitchener event supports the Ray of Hope Community Centre. It’s our largest fundraiser by far, generating 20% of the Community Centre’s yearly budget. This year, we hope to have 800 fundraisers participate and raise $225,000.

Ways to get involved:

  • Sign up a team and recruit your friends, family or co-workers to join you. Bonus points for giving the team a fun name! Don’t have a team to join? Join our Rockin’ Rays team!
  • If you have a business, consider signing up as a sponsor.
  • Promote the event. Share with your connections.

We hope you’ll walk with us on February 24 to provide food, warmth and community for our guests — because it’s cold out there!

A young mother holds her baby girl who is wearing a snowsuit and pink hat with ears

Help a neighbour in need

When you give, you make life a little easier for people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity. Thank you!

The Marketplace food hamper program continues to run low on all items and the following are especially needed:

Food item

  • grains (pasta, rice, noodles, lentils, frijoles)
  • tomato sauce
  • canned food (meat, tuna, salmon, chili, soup, vegetables, beans, chickpeas)
  • coffee and tea
  • sugar
  • peanut butter and jam or jelly
  • flour
  • cereal boxes, oatmeal, pancake mix
  • baby food and formula
  • school snacks (granola bars, cookies, fruit cups, crackers, bear paws)

Non-food items

  • toiletries (toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo)
  • toilet paper
  • baby wipes and diapers – sizes 2, 3 and 4

For more information, please contact us at: All donations are appreciated!

You can also feed hungry people through our secure donation page.



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