At Vintage Hotels in Niagara-on-theLake, the holiday season is a time for sharing.
This month, Trees of Hope toy drives are being held at Queen’s Landing, the Pillar and Post and the Prince of Wales.
Trees at all three locations will be filled with names of children in the community who otherwise may not receive a gift on Christmas morning. Vintage Hotels is encouraging the public to visit their neighbouring property to collect an ornament and purchase an unwrapped gift for one of the names displayed on the tree.
The tree in the lounge at Queen’s Landing has stars with the names and ages of women and children at Gillian’s Place, the local shelter offering hope and safety through a range of services to women who have fled from violent and abusive situations.
Lily Kszan, general manager at Queen’s Landing, says many of the staff members will take one of the stars and shop with their families.
There have been many holiday seasons where her children would shop with her, says Kszan. She would choose children close in age to hers, and they would enjoy shopping, feeling confident they knew what other boys and girls their age would want for Christmas. It was a fun family time, she says, and also a good learning experience for her kids, teaching them, “about others their age who are less fortunate, and about community. That’s so important.”
Several staff members do the same thing now with their kids, she says, while she shops for the moms on the trees, who tend to ask for simple things.
Although the recipients of the program at the other hotels changes every year, Queen’s Landing has collected gifts for Gillian’s Place from the beginning, Kszan says. “What could be better than helping these women and children who have had to leave their homes, sometimes at night without anything. There is no more worthwhile cause than Gillian’s Place.”
While staff and regulars at the lounge take a star every year, Kszan says there are many annual visitors to the hotel who know about the Tree of Hope and make the donation of a toy a tradition of their visit.
She gives credit to Ric Singh, who has been working with Vintage Hotels since the 1980s, and who first organized the Tree of Hope when he was at the Pillar and Post, wanting to be sure kids less fortunate were well-looked after at Christmas.
He will likely take several truck-loads of toys to Gillian’s Place, he says, and if there are still stars left on the tree without gifts to go with them, Vintage Hotels will provide the funds to purchase them. But most years, he says, there are more than enough gifts for everyone.
Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters will benefit from the strong efforts put forth by the team at Prince of Wales, and Inn on the Twenty. Big Brothers Big Sisters facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their full potential, both as individuals and citizens.
The Pillar and Post is working with Project SHARE this year to sponsor families living in poverty in the Niagara Falls community. Project SHARE’s mission is to address the short-term need for food and create long-term solutions for food security, mobilizing resources in our community, and adapting services to respond to changes around us. Pillar and Post will be accepting both gifts and donations that will go toward providing a hearty Christmas meal for each of the sponsored families.
The Tree of Hope at the Prince of Wales Hotel is located in the main lobby, in the Pillar and Post in the Cannery Restaurant, and at Queen’s Landing, in the Bacchus Lounge.