Mother of four denied Christmas Cheer hamper
Lack of photo identification prevented low-income woman from getting holiday food, gifts
Posted: Dec 28, 2012 4:59 PM ET
Last Updated: Dec 28, 2012 4:52 PM ET
A Thunder Bay woman says she's had to struggle over the holidays and cites Christmas Cheer's identification requirements as the cause.
Amanda Perreault said she was refused a food and gift hamper because she doesn't have photo identification — something she lost in the May 28 flood.
"I walked out of there and I cried,” Perreault said.
“I cried all the way to the bus stop, I was so ashamed because I did not have this and I am so tired of arguing with everybody when it comes to poverty."Linda Gambee says Thunder Bay's Christmas Cheer program will help people get temporary photo ID if they don't have any. That way they can get a Christmas hamper. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)
Christmas Cheer spokesperson Linda Gambee said participants are told in advance they need photo identification, and the charity will help people get photo ID.
Family 'had to struggle'
Perreault said she showed her “low [income] housing card with my name and address on it,” but a woman “looked at my card and asked me for my photo ID."
She said she told the woman she had four children and needed the hamper, but to no avail.
"We're only given $300 [a month] for four children from Ontario Works,” Perreault said.
“The food we get in the Christmas hamper ... lasts us from five days to a week.”
Perreault said she called several agencies, including the Salvation Army, United Way, Lakehead Social Planning Committee, Urban Aboriginal Strategy, and the city, but was unable to get help. Friends finally came to her aid, and brought her a ham.
"This is the first time we've really had to actually struggle [at Christmas] ... it's really sad,” she said.
Gambee said there is a screening process for hampers because "we would never have any checks and balances to ensure — not only that those in need get a hamper but — that households do not get more than one [hamper] from Christmas Cheer."
Gambee said if Perreault had been “up front with us about her situation, we would have helped her to ensure that she did get at least some temporary ID, to be able to pick up her hamper."
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