Charities brings cheer to holidays

It was back in December 1996 and Sarah Rutka was still in high school while her sister, April, was in university.

A couple days before Christmas a family in the Rutka neighbourhood lost their home to a fire. Sarah and April wanted to do something to help.

The girls swung into action, gathering all they could from family members and friends so their neighbour could enjoy Christmas. This was the beginning of the charity organization now known as Holiday Helpers.

“We just felt compelled at that time to do something to help… We got such a great feeling after doing that doing that one year, that we kind of wanted to keep helping,” said Sarah.

Holiday Helpers is a charity that provides Christmas packages for low income families. Sarah, co-founder of the organization, recently spoke at the final Entrepreneurial Moms meeting of 2012 to promote her organization.

Entrepreneurial Moms is an organization that seeks to not only empower moms, but strives to help all women, from all walks of life. Rutka said many of the families that her charity helps are single parent households led by women.

“It’s all different stories of why these moms are applying to the program. A lot of them are single moms on social assistance. A lot of them have fled abusive relationships and just trying to get settled and get back on their feet,” she said.

“There is such a need at this time, people really come forward and are asking ask for help this time of year.”

Bonnie Chan is the director of Entrepreneurial Moms and organized the group’s final meeting of the year. She said Entrepreneurial Moms is always trying to find ways to give back.

“I just found out about (Holiday Helpers), so we brought presents and donations to her organization. That’s how I contributed,” said Chan.

Rutka said thanks to such support, her charity has grown every year, and in 2004 it became a registered charity.

“There was a couple years when we didn’t even record numbers, we were just doing for fun cause we want to.

“But in 2004 we got to the point where we said you know we might have something here,” she said.