A Lake Country mother of four is no longer feeling the holiday spirit after discovering there would be no gifts under the tree – two days before Christmas.
“This wrecked my whole Christmas,” said Juanita Presznyak.
Presznyak applied for a Kelowna SHARE Society Christmas hamper at the end of November with an understanding that all accepted applications would receive a hamper.
As December carried on Presznyak kept waiting to hear from SHARE and finally called them this morning, Dec. 23, to discover she was one of a handful of families that would not be getting a hamper this year.
“I have no gifts for my kids, I have nothing for Christmas dinner and all they said was sorry,” said Presznyak. “If I have known I could have gone to the Salvation Army or the food bank, telling me on the 23rd is not OK, they should have told me earlier.”
SHARE told her that the hampers need to be sponsored and that unfortunately this year’s sponsors did not pick her family.
“I found that very offensive, that they said someone didn’t chose our family. I don’t understand why they would do such a thing, it is not right,” said Presznyak. “They shouldn’t promise families a Christmas hamper and gifts if they don’t have enough sponsors, it’s wrong.”
SHARE tells the Cap News they always try their best to fill every hamper, but sometimes sponsors don’t pick every family.
“We have a couple families we are not able to sponsor,” confirmed SHARE volunteer coordinator Janine Makar.
Makar said businesses and individuals chose the family they want to sponsor and the Presznyak family is larger with older children which means it is much harder to find a match.
“Sponsors have a right to chose what family they would like to sponsor,” explained Makar.
“When the sponsor looks at the family and the gift requests, they may not want to sponsor that expensive of a hamper. They will say their budget doesn’t suit that kind of family.”
As for the last-minute notice, Makar said they wait until today to tell families in case a last-minute sponsor comes through for them.
“We try to find sponsors until the last minute. Even today someone called looking for a family to sponsor that we matched this morning,” said Makar.
“We try to match as many as we can, but we cannot do everyone unfortunately.”
While SHARE claims they make it clear to families a hamper is not guaranteed, Presznyak says in years past SHARE has ensured something is given to all families.
“In year’s past even if they don’t have a sponsor, they fill the hampers. With a hamper meal and a gift card or something,” said Presznyak.
“It was really upsetting. They should have let me know sooner than the day before Christmas. It is not nice. I’m so stressed. No one every told us there were no sponsors for us. To find out that other families are going through this too, it is so upsetting.”
SHARE said that they accept sponsors until the last minute, Dec. 24 at noon, and hope some of the remaining families will get gifts this year.
“People do still call and we will match them. I can’t promise anything, but maybe someone else will call. Maybe someone will call us and we can still help Juanita. You never know, there is always a santa out there,” said Makar.
“We are trying to match make, we don’t have 100 per cent control. We are not out to ignore anyone, we try to do as much as we can for as many as we can.”
As for Presznyak and her four boys, 13-20 years old, she says she is incredibly disappointed her Christmas has been ruined, but she is grateful her kids are old enough to understand why there will be no presents on Christmas day.
“We will survive,” said Presznyak.