Before Christmas has even passed, many people are already making resolutions for the new year. However, Maggie Blohm's resolution is a little different than others.
"Next year will be better," Blohm said hopefully.
"It can't get any worse than this so I'll just keep working on it."
Blohm is a 45-year-old single mom and grandmother. She is struggling to raise an 18-year-old daughter, as well as her other daughter's five-year-old autistic son Jonas.
The Abbotsford resident hopes that by taking care of Jonas full-time her eldest daughter will be able to complete college and begin working before taking on the financial burden of raising an autistic child.
"She comes over every day and plays with him . . . but I want her to get an education and do better than be a stay-at-home mom like me," she said, adding it's a trade-off she is more than happy to make to ensure her daughter's shot at a stable future.
But life hasn't been easy. While Blohm's grandson is a joy, treatment and therapy for his autism is expensive.
"(Jonas) is super smart. He can play video games, he uses the computer, he knows his vowels and can add - he can do things other kids can't," Blohm said, but noted he is socially at the level of a three-year-old.
"On the social side, I can't walk him down the street. I have to keep him in the stroller."
With Jonas being a full-time responsibility, Blohm is unable to work and relies on the Abbotsford Food Bank and Christmas Bureau to help out.
The Abbotsford Christmas Bureau is one of 27 groups that relies on the Empty Stocking Fund to help purchase much-needed items around the holidays.
"They're the only ones who help me with diapers and stuff," Blohm confessed.
She added Jonas isn't officially recognized by the government as Blohm's charge, meaning her income assistance only allows for so much.
The only place that has acknowledged Blohm as Jonas' primary caregiver is the Christmas Bureau, which has allowed her to register Jonas to receive Christmas gifts this year.
"I don't know what I'd do without those guys," she said.
Dave Murray, Abbotsford Food Bank manager, said it's been a difficult year for both clients and Organization needs to raise $600,000 to break even the food bank and Christmas Bureau.
"Last year we had a very challenging year financially and we're still recovering," said Murray.
"We didn't raise enough money and demand is far outstripping the supply.
"Our numbers took a big spike in the summer . . . more and more people need help including a lot of seniors and single moms with kids."
The food bank is pushing 7,000 registered clients in 2012, up from 6,000 the year before and the organization feeds an average of 4,000 people a month.
Just to make ends meet the food bank needs to raise $600,000 during its Christmas fundraising campaign.
The food bank and Christmas Bureau are 100 per cent dependent on community support, noted Murray.
"We have no government money," he said.
The food bank has always relied on and been thankful for the support from the community.
"It's the same every year. We need Abbotsford to support us, and they usually do," said Murray.
"We have little kids in elementary school who are coming to school hungry, so we still have some work to do and we need the community to help us do it."
Despite the challenges Blohm faces, she said family is key in keeping her spirits up during the holidays.
"I mean, the kids make my day every day," Blohm said, adding there's no point dwelling on the negatives.
"As long as we have a big dinner (with the family together), that's the most important thing."
- The Empty Stocking Fund collects cash donations, which are then administered by the United Way to help fund 27 Christmas bureaus and community service groups across the province.