Chelsea Hampers bringing Mothers Day “sparkle” to women’s shelter
By Stuart Benson
The Chelsea Hamper project is putting together special no-contact Mother’s Day baskets for Maison Libère-Elles, a non-profit women’s shelter in Chelsea that provides specialized assistance and accommodation to women and their children who have been victims of domestic violence.
Celine Nadreau, a Cascades resident and volunteer, has been volunteering her time for the past 12 years putting together hampers for those in need, starting in 2007 when Nadreau and nine of her girlfriends, each pitched in $25, allowing them to provide a $250 hamper for one family.
Since then, Nadreau’s hamper project has helped over 47 families, averaging about four hampers a year, including 132 children and 64 parents.
However, last year Nadreau decided to do something “special” for the nine women at the Chelsea shelter, raising money to
“It was a big success,” Nadreau said.
Unfortunately, due to social distancing measures enacted to protect against the COVID-19 outbreak, the shelter is on lockdown and not allowing visitors or regular deliveries. Fortunately, the shelter is making an exception for Nadreau’s hampers, so long as she purchases and packages the hampers herself.
“Last year I could ask someone that we had nine mums and needed them to buy nine bath soaps or something,” said Nadreau. “That meant I didn't have to do all the shopping and people could feel like they were actually contributing their own gifts.”
Although this year has meant a little extra leg-work for Nadreau, thanks to the donations she has already received, she has managed to put together not only five hampers for the residents of the shelter but 19 more for the shelter’s staff.
“This year, I thought since we did so well last year, we could make a basket for all the staff,” Nadreau explained. “Because it's not easy for them year-round, imagine what it's like right now.”
The hampers not only benefits the shelter, but they’re also benefiting local businesses, as Nadreau has been able to fill the hampers with locally-sourced products, including:
24 bags of hot chocolate powder from La Confiserie Wakefield
24 ceramic mugs from Boutique Jamboree;
24 fair-trade chocolate bars and bags of coffee from Bean Fair;
24 jars of jam from Quebec Association for Independent Living (Quail);
24 bottles of maple syrup from Älska Farms;
Local businesses, for their part, are also pitching in to help with the costs. Moments after Nadreau had finished speaking with this reporter, she received a $500 dollar donation from the Mill Road Community Space.
Nadreau is still accepting monetary donations to cover the costs of the hampers, and any extra money raised will be given to the Maison-Libère-Elles as a direct-deposit donation. If you would like to donate you can send an e-transfer to ChelseaHampers@gmail.com.