December in Alberta can be magical. The falling snow glistens like airborne diamonds and our towns and cities are aglow with holiday spirit demonstrated by an endless sea of shimmering lights, colourful decorations and the sound of Christmas music playing everywhere.
But winter in Alberta is not a wonderland for everyone.
Eight months along with-child, Savana prepared for another night of sleeping on the bare floor of her empty, unfurnished apartment. She didn’t have much, not even a mattress to support her advanced state of pregnancy. But, as she peered through her window at the gusting wind and flurries of snow outside, she counted herself lucky to have a place to live. It was bereft of contents, including the most basic of household necessities, but it was shelter from the cold.
Savana knew she needed help preparing for the arrival of her new-born. She had no provisions for her baby, nor the means to purchase any. At this late stage of the holiday season, Savana found it difficult to access the assistance she needed.
Dejected but undeterred, Savana continued her journey in search of help.
It was only a few days away from Christmas, and one of the coldest of 2022 when Savana found her way to Catholic Social Services’ Gianna Centre – a support centre for women facing crisis pregnancy situations. The centre was preparing to close for the holidays when a distraught and overwhelmed Savana arrived at their doorstep. She shared her story with the Gianna staff hoping they could provide some support.
Upon hearing her situation, and moved by compassion, the Gianna team instantly began working on providing Savana with the provisions and support she desperately needed as a woman so near her due date. A top priority was to find Savana a bed. Using donation funds, the team at Gianna earnestly began their search for a bed set.
In her search for a new bed, Gianna’s Program Manager, Vera, connected with a business owner able to accommodate her time-sensitive request. As she explained the situation, he shared that he also experienced the hardship of sleeping on a bare floor as a refugee years earlier. Deeply moved, he gave Vera his word he would deliver and assemble the new bed that very day.
With the delivery of the bed scheduled, Vera purchased the necessary bedding and brought it to Savana’s home. Upon entering the apartment, Vera immediately noted the starkness of the residence. It was furnished with only a single stool in the kitchen and a thin blanket and two pillows laying plainly on the floor. Vera felt like CSS was part of a Christmas miracle falling into place.
Later that day as promised, a queen-size mattress and frame was personally delivered and assembled by the business owner for Savana at her residence. She no longer had to sleep on the cold and empty floor.
Overcome with tears and emotion, the young, soon-to-be mother expressed her gratefulness for the generosity, care and support given to her by the CSS’ Gianna Centre staff when she could find none elsewhere.
“With so much joy in our heart we say thank you! This show of kindness is indeed a huge surprise. I received the mattress a few minutes ago and it’s beautiful. God bless you and Merry Christmas.”
Burden of stress lifted, Savana was so moved by the compassion shown to her in her time of need, she decided to name her new baby girl ‘Gianna’, after the special place she had received love and support when she needed it most.
It is because of your generous donations to the Sign of Hope, that programs like CSS’ Gianna Centre can change someone’s life for the better - lifting them up when they are at their lowest.
You are truly the light and face of hope for those in need. Stories like Savana’s are many. We need you to continue helping us, so that we can continue to help people like Savana. This Christmas, please give generously.
Donations can also be made online at www.cssalberta.ca/signofhope,
or by calling (780) 439-HOPE(4673).