Stella's Circle lighting up hope online in annual fundraiser

·2 min read
Ted Dillon/CBC
Ted Dillon/CBC

Stella's Circle in St. John's is moving ahead with its annual Light Up Hope event by taking things online this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The event is part of an annual global campaign called Giving Tuesday, the day after Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events that focuses on giving back to the community.

"Giving Tuesday started with the purpose to just say, 'let's not forget the purpose of this season, that it's all about giving,'" Stella's Circle CEO Lisa Browne told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"Let's take a breath and kind of think of what are some good things we can do, some giving things we can do."

Under normal circumstances Rawlins Cross in the province's capital city would be teeming with residents to take in the event and kick off the countdown to the holiday season with the lighting of a large sign that reads "hope." It's an annual campaign to raise money for the charity that helps with housing, employment and counselling support for those who need it.

On Tuesday evening the scene was empty, but the hope signs are lit up throughout the city.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

"Without hope you really don't have anything, and hope is something that we must cling on to," said Browne.

"Particularly this year, 2020 has been so challenging and that concept of hope is so important."

Food, addictions and mental health

Browne said 2020 has been a challenging year for Stella's Circle, with unexpected expenses and programming changes due to the pandemic.

She said the mental health challenges of clients and staff alike has been increasing.

"These are stressful times. I feel like everybody has been heightened, and I feel that our job right now is of course looking after participants, but making sure that staff are feeling well and feeling supported as well," said Browne.

Adam Walsh/CBC
Adam Walsh/CBC

Browne said there has also been an increase in addictions challenges where routines and coping mechanisms for many have been interrupted by the pandemic.

Food has been a constant necessity out of many of the province's charitable organizations this year.

Browne said Stella's Circle has distributed 6,300 meals this year so far, and the Light Up Hope event is meant to bring some hope to people.

"We'd love it if people wanted to make a donation, and for today until midnight donations are matched up to $10,000 thanks to Bluedrop and Lemur Vehicle Monitors," she said.

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