Tara Shanks, with the help of friends, family and community, fills dozens of stockings every Christmas for youth served by Threshold Housing Society. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Tara Shanks, with the help of friends, family and community, fills dozens of stockings every Christmas for youth served by Threshold Housing Society. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Oak Bay woman and newly-adopted daughters stuff stockings for at-risk youth

Threshold Housing youth to receive Christmas stockings

When Tara Shanks learned how many Victoria youth wake up without gifts on Christmas morning, she jumped into action.

It was Christmas 2017 when she first started creating stockings for young people supported by Threshold Housing Society. Two years later she’s nearly finished the adoption process for three young girls and her stocking-stuffing efforts have more than tripled.

Threshold Housing Society works to prevent adult homelessness by providing safe housing, support services and community to at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Many of the youth Threshold serves are about to age out of foster care or have already aged out of care.

READ ALSO: How to make holiday gift-giving eco-friendly — and more meaningful

Shanks’ heart broke when she learned that many of young people in Threshold housing rarely woke up to gifts on Christmas morning.

“In Victoria, youth homelessness is a huge issue that kind of gets missed sometimes. … There’s so many people who need help but I just found for this age group, people are less aware,” Shanks said. “As soon as [Threshold] said [youth] have never received a stocking, I had to help…it’s just so different from the world I grew up in.”

Now the community of Oak Bay, where Shanks runs a small business, helps out too. Gift and cash donations pour in and help the family fill stockings for every youth in Threshold programs. Shanks says her daughters love the process of giving back.

“Now for our girls who have joined us from foster care and were adopted over the age of 10, the idea that some of those kids have aged out [of care] really means something to them. They understand what that feeling could be like.

“The biggest part for me, with the stockings, is not so much that they get the stuff, which is lovely … it’s that they know the community sees them. That to me is the real message there,” Shanks added. “We see you, we acknowledge you, you’re important.”

READ ALSO: Threshold House officially opens doors

Jasmine Campbell, development coordinator at Threshold Society, echoed Shanks sentiment, and explained that the youth served by Threshold are often categorized as the ‘hidden homeless.’

She said while many go to high school or post secondary, at the end of the day, they don’t have a safe, stable place to go home to.

“Often that’s not something you can see. So if you can’t see it, you won’t think about it.”

Campbell said the stockings will go to young people who aren’t expecting anything on Christmas morning.

“They’re going to wake up to gifts under the tree, and that’s all thanks to community members like Tara and the people who have come forward to help make that possible,” she said. “I feel like it tells that they’re not alone this Christmas. They have an entire community supporting them.”

To support Shanks and her Christmas stockings, you can drop off items like chocolate, candy, decks of cards, tools and other small items to A La Mode Consignment in Oak Bay or by emailing Shanks at tara@ponderingturtles.com.

To learn more about how you can help youth supported by thresholdhousing.ca/get-involved/.

READ ALSO: Santa drops by Victoria Gen Hospital to give teddy bears to region’s sickest kids



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

On Feb. 27, a construction vehicle remained on the site of the former encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue as part a clean-up effort. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Encampment between Pat Bay Highway, McKenzie Avenue cleared, all residents relocated

Efforts to disband encampment resumed after January fire

Rebecca Lang of Any Thyme Gardening installed a seed exchange library in front of her home on Beechwood Avenue. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Victoria gardeners scramble to create local seed exchanges

Fairfield resident’s seed exchange an instant hit

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read