When Robin McNaughton showed up to volunteer at the gift-wrapping station at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre, she was surprised to see an old photo of her and her three children featured on a large poster.
The gift-wrapping station is raising funds for Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) and the poster highlighted some of the people ACS helps through their more than 90 programs.
McNaughton knew that her story had been featured in a 2010 ACS magazine but was unaware she had made it on a poster.
“It’s fantastic. I’ll take it off their hands if they ever stop using it,” she says.
Her connection with ACS goes back to 2003 when she was struggling with post-partum depression after the birth of her first child.
Newly married and having recently moved to Abbotsford, she was overwhelmed with all the changes and found support at the ACS Family Centre.
Over the years, McNaughton voluntarily participated in multiple family programs that helped her find her way as a parent and meet lifelong friends.
She has been volunteering at her children’s school for years, but this was the first time she was able to give back to the organization that she credits as a being a lifeline for her when she needed it the most.
“You only get one chance at being a good parent, so why not learn as much as you can and be supported a much as possible?” she says.
Another part of the appeal for volunteering was a chance to get out of the house. Her second child is on the autism spectrum with anxiety and she had to homeschool him last year.
He is now in middle school with some supports, but McNaughton is often called to pick him up and he is only attending a few hours a day.
Accordingly, her dream of returning to work once all of her children were in school has been delayed again.
“With volunteering, it feels like I’m useful again and I get to be a part of cheering people up,” McNaughton says.
The gift-wrapping booth at Sevenoaks is run by volunteers and all proceeds go towards the community programs run by ACS. The service runs until 5 p.m. on Dec. 24.
Visit abbotsfordcommunityservices.com for more information.