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Boxes of Hope help homeless youth at Christmas (3 photos)

Barrie Fire gives unexpected donation to the cause

On Christmas Day, there could be 20 to 30 young people marking the holiday at Barrie’s Youth Haven.

These youth, between 16 and 21, are temporarily experiencing homelessness.

The shelter held its Boxes of Hope event Wednesday night at East Side Mario’s on Bayfield Street.

People purchased gift boxes for $50 with the prizes revealed at the event. The donations will go to purchase gifts for the youth who will be at Youth Haven on Dec. 25.

Director of Fund Developments, Mary-Ellen O’Neill-Madeley says they surpassed last year’s goal by $2,000 and collected $6,000. That included a surprise donation of $300 from the Barrie Fire Community Project Fund.

“We don’t know exactly who will be at the shelter on Christmas Day so the staff holds off on shopping until close to Christmas and then try to get the young people something they would really like that would be for them specifically," said O’Neill-Madeley.

“The work we do is vital to our youth, our communities, and to our overall quality of life," explains Executive Director Lucy Gowers.

“We provide emergency shelter, care management and outreach. We provide a valuable service and unfortunately a necessary service.”

The shelter is also preparing for the upcoming fundraiser Coldest Night of the Year on Feb. 24 which is a walk through Barrie’s downtown to raise awareness about the local homeless problem.

For more information on Youth Haven go to


About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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