VALLEY, N.S. – Sarah Stewart-Clark set out to help a few families through what she knows will be a difficult Christmas, and she’s been touched by the community response to her efforts.
Stewart-Clark, who is from P.E.I. and now lives in Valley, is collecting money and gifts for 14 children on the island who have lost a parent to suicide or an overdose during the past year.
“I’ve been deeply touched by the people who’ve reached out,” she said. “I just got a donation from students at Montague High, church groups and businesses have helped, and there are Buddhist monks making Christmas stockings for the children.”
Four years ago, Stewart-Clark and another young mother founded a group called Island Mothers Helping Mothers. Despite the name, it’s a group for mothers, fathers and other caregivers.
“We don’t have the large families we used to, and some people are newcomers,” she said. “We all need backup. We’re committed to being there for one another, and we have 4,300 members now.”
They set up a program called Christmas in the Village to help those struggling financially or with health issues.
“This has been a very devastating year on P.E.I.,” said Stewart-Clark. “We’ve lost six young mothers and three fathers to suicide or overdose. Just because the parent is no longer there doesn’t mean we don’t still see the children as part of our village. We want to ensure the children have a special Christmas and the family members know we will support them as we would if the parents were still alive.
“It’s touching for myself and the nine families witnessing their community come together.”
Money raised through a GoFundMe page 9 www.gofundme.com/h7xpkp-you-are-not-alone-this-christmas ) will be split between the families. Anyone with items to donate can email firstname.lastname@example.org