Some women staying in Winnipeg shelters might have felt they didn't have much to celebrate on Valentine's Day, but Sara Smith and Laina Hughes set out to change that.
"If I'm going to do something for Valentine's Day, it's going to be more about bringing love to other people, not necessarily just the fact that, 'Yay for me, I have a date,' or 'I'm going to an expensive dinner," Smith said.
Smith and Hughes raised about $1,000 over a month-long Facebook fundraising campaign to buy movies and sweet treats for women staying at Ikwe-Widdjiitiwin and the North End Women's Centre for a different holiday: Galentine's Day.
Smith said the effort was inspired by the television show Parks and Recreation. On Feb. 13, main character Leslie Knope has a party and exchanges gifts with her girlfriends for Galentine's Day.
Smith said she's not a traditionalist when it comes to the annual day of romance.
"I wouldn't go out and have a fancy dinner or anything like that. I'd be more likely to buy some half-off chocolate at Shoppers, stay home and watch Netflix," she said. "I realized that there's actually probably a lot of people who might want to do that but they don't have the option."
Smith said the fallout from a bad relationship is a common force pushing women into living in shelters in the first place, and she wanted to try and bring them something positive to brighten Valentine's Day for them, too.
"For a lot of women, it might even be a relationship that is the problem, the reason that they're in transition right now or in a vulnerable position or not able to stay at home," she said. "They're focused on just taking care of the basics and their priorities."
Smith said the fundraiser wasn't difficult to put together — it just took a few posts on Facebook and an evening of shopping. She wants others to know that a little love for strangers can go a long way.
"Whether or not you have a date for Valentine's Day, if you want to do something that's going to put a little bit more love out there into the world, you could think about other people, think about the people who might not be as lucky as you are," she said.