A letter from YWCA Mentoring Director Mindy Gardner:

“They have been cold because there wasn’t enough heat. They have been without enough food and gone to bed hungry more than anyone should. When they didn’t have enough money for rent, they didn’t have a place to call home.

The story of poverty is not new, and it’s not always the same. The long-term mental effects of growing up without the expectation of having enough are not always told:

The anxiety and fear they feel every time they open the fridge hungry.

Chronic health issues with little health care available.

Long-term mental health struggles.

Loss of family members due to lower life expectancy. 

A child who grew up in our program and is now working her way out of poverty recently told me that whenever she shops for food, she is afraid her card won’t work and will be right back where she came from.

Over the past 5 years, I have operated the Holiday Gift Assistance for the YWCA Bridges for Kids program. Every year I am stunned by the number of children who may not have enough under their tree. These children hear peers talk for weeks about what is on their list and what they want Santa to bring them. They don’t expect the joy of Christmas morning that we all felt when we were children. Instead, they expect that when they return to school in just a week, there will be a sea of new clothes, shiny new toys, and bright smiles from their peers.

We can be the advocates these youth need by bringing just a tiny amount of that joy this Christmas. 

There are 176 youths on our tree at YWCA Cortland this year, and many still need someone to help bring magic to them. 

Can you do your part in giving the blessing of enough?”


Every year, Bridges for Kids, a service of our Mentoring program, helps families provide holiday gifts to over 150 children. Here’s how YOU can help make the holidays merry and bright for 176 local families experiencing trying times in two different ways:

  1. You can stop by the YWCA Cortland Lobby or the Cortland Free Library to pick a child’s name off our giving tree and provide them with gifts for the holidays!
  2.  You can purchase gifts on our Bridges for Kids Holiday Assistance Amazon Wish List. To send the gifts straight to the YWCA, choose “Melinda Anne Gardner” for the shipping address. Also, make sure you use AmazonSmile, and Amazon will donate a portion of the proceeds to YWCA Cortland at no extra cost. Click to find out more about AmazonSmile.

Please make your gift by Monday, December 19.

For more information, email Mindy Gardner at bridges@cortlandywca.org.