Help Give A "Warm Hug" To CAMH Patients This Holiday

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From pyjamas and slippers to a gift card to the coffee shop, this holiday season Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation (CAMH) is stepping up its gift-giving program Gifts of Light with a goal to ensure that 1700 of its patients receives a special wrapped present.

CAMH will also be extending the program year-round for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father's Day, Easter, and other special occasions.

Packages range from a $20 gift card for the patient-run Out Of This World Café to $25 for a basket of soap, shampoo, lip balm and toothbrush; $35 for a hat and scarf or puzzles books, board games, sketchbooks and stationery to $90 towards educational and training courses, textbooks and supplies, and much more. Click here to peruse the catalogue.

“One of the devastating consequences of stigma is that few family members or friends visit loved ones in CAMH’s care, let alone send gifts or well wishes,” it says in the press release. “With this in mind, CAMH launched Gifts of Light five years ago to lift the spirits of patients and help bridge the divide between treatment at CAMH and life outside of hospital. Last year we gave out more than 1,000 gifts and helped support vital hospital treatment and research priorities. This year we know we can do even better.”

During the launch event for the 2012 campaign, held Nov. 6 inside the new gymnasium at the Centre’s Bell Gateway Building, actor Zaib Shaikh from Little Mosque On The Prairie and veteran broadcaster Valerie Pringle hosted patients, CAMH staff, and supporters.  Juno Award-winning musician Kathleen Edwards performed, as well as CAMH’s very own Archway Choir. 

A woman named Tracy, a patient at CAMH’s Archway Outpatient clinic, also took the stage. “Each year CAMH and Archway holds a Christmas party where we’re able to receive a Gifts of Light and it means so much that we’re able to bring something special home with us,” she said.

“My illness if schizoaffective disorder. I came to Toronto to start a new life and receive my treatment here some time ago. My family is at a distance and they don’t understand mental illness and decided not to have anything more to do with me. But surrounding patients, clients of CAMH, have become my family. Every year at the Christmas party we get to share with each other good times and receive the Gifts of Light.

“I want to thank you for caring for us all. When you give a hat or a pair of gloves or a pair of slippers, you’re giving so much more. It’s like you’re giving a warm hug on a cold day.”

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