CUMFI strives to meet greater than usual need amid COVID Christmas
- Andréa Ledding | January 04, 2021
This December CUMFI (Central Urban Métis Federation Inc.) is bringing Christmas cheer to Elders and families in a new way.
“Christmas is a huge event for CUMFI every year, we host about ten Christmas parties so everyone’s able to access the Santa and the gifts, and we have this huge Elder’s gathering which this year is not possible,” said president Shirley Isbister.
“So with COVID we started March 13th contacting the Elders, trying to deliver anything they need, picking up groceries, dropping off hampers, that sort of thing. So we are dropping off Christmas hampers next week, we have the board of directors, volunteers, and staff doing that.
“We normally have huge children’s Christmas parties so we will start the delivery of gifts and goodie bags next week also. It’s a sad time for us because our community is really in need, so we have been giving food and refreshments at the door since we had to close.”
They have given out over 16,000 individual food items at the door, and over 750 hampers so far.
“When people are in isolation or positive, we’re supporting them through their isolation period too. CUMFI has had some positive cases and we’ve had to look after our homes,” said Isbister.
There are more people than usual in need this year because of not being able to go in to work, or families who are caring for Elders, parents or children with special needs or immune-compromised, she said.
“So we’re trying to look after those families too.
“I personally am getting calls from people steady and trying to make sure everyone at least has support through this Christmas period and through this heavy time of COVID. It’s scary for families and for our staff.
“It’s hitting the schools and we’ve had to isolate children already. Then we have staff that go in and stay 24 hours a day with that child or children or families until it’s deemed safe to be out in the community. CUMFI’s main thing is we have really dedicated staff.
“Christmas is a huge time of the year for us and I personally buy every Christmas gift. I’m a huge fan of Christmas. When you have staff that go out, if you say the limit is whatever, staff will not go over that limit, but when I go out, when I see something that’s going to be great for kids that age then I’ll buy it. So that’s the difference. In all these years I have purchased every single Christmas gift, that’s probably 600 gifts... staff comes along and volunteer and help load up, but I just think that Christmas is a time for kids to be awed and we try to give gifts that make that happen.”
Along with giving out food at the door and delivering gifts and hampers, CUMFI provides toques and gloves for those in need who come to the door.
“Thanks to some of these people that have supported us so we’re able to meet that need: SHIP (Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership), MN-S (Métis Nation-Saskatchewan), Western Region 2A, and Nutrien. Synergy 8 give us $1000 a year to buy gloves, they do fabulous things in Saskatoon. We’ve had so much support and I really want to thank everyone that’s supported CUMFI so we can manage to facilitate and look after our families our community our children and of course our Elders.
“We haven’t had to say no to any Elder request. When we were calling to make sure we had the address, so many said you don’t need to give us a gift you’ve been so good to us. But we’re delivering a gift to all of CUMFI Elders, we appreciate all of the things that they’ve done over the years and how they come out and support CUMFI and support the communities.”
Elder Marlene ConRon says CUMFI is great.
“They help everyone and they’ve been doing that for years,” said ConRon. “They help the Elders and they help all the kids and it’s just wonderful to have that establishment. If you ever need anything you just need to give them a call. Especially with this COVID, but they’re always there for you all the time.”