Helping Hands is coming up with a new way to assist underprivileged residents living in Sault Ste. Marie as the charitable organization enters its 10th year in community service.
Spearheaded by volunteer Adam Lyons, the Sponsor a Family Program would invite a local business to sponsor a family at a cost of $500 for one month, which would cover the purchase of a pair of $250 grocery gift cards.
The monthly family would receive the first $250 gift card and then be required to meet certain conditions to receive the other $250.
Lyons says they’re currently in discussions with the Sault Career Centre on what those conditions might be, such as attending a one-hour consult with an employment adviser or getting volunteer hours.
“We want to approach it with a hand up and not a handout perspective,” he says. “The 500 bucks is a stepping stool – it’s not a handout. But we are offering to help.
“Can we get you in touch with the right people to help you get your resume shaped up, for example. We’re having discussions with the Career Centre to see if there are opportunities with career placements associated with these monthly sponsors.
“We want to help, but we also want you to help yourself.”
Volunteering with Helping Hands since December 2022, Lyons says he came up with the ‘hand up’ idea earlier this year.
“I was trying to think of ways to help people in need without doing a big giveaway,” he says. “I found we were doing some giveaways with Helping Hands, but it wasn’t doing as much as we had hoped for the people we serve.”
So far, the feedback from potential sponsors has exceeded Lyons’ expectations.
“We’ve had a lot of response from community members and local businesses,” he says. “There are 13 or 14 sponsors on board already, so we’re already set until May of next year.
“We’re still figuring out the nuts and bolts of how we’re going to roll it out to potential clients, but we’re pretty excited.”
Lyons says they’ll be announcing more program details in April, with the goal to begin rolling out the initiative in May.
Each sponsoring business will be recognized on the Helping Hands social media accounts, including their Facebook page which currently has over 16,000 members.
For any inquiries, Lyons can be reached by email.