Debbie Mears is helped with the icing on the Adopt-A-Teen gingerbread house by three-year-old Lidia Lee. The Christmas Bureau launched its 78th campaign with a gingerbread house decorating challenge in Ford Hall at Rogers Place.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia

Images linger in my head.

Teens for whom Christmas is the toughest day of the year. Their peers may be showered with gifts, but their parents (often one parent or guardian) can’t give them a thing.

Kids — for that is what teens are — who just wish Christmas would go away, because it hurts too much.

Think of their families. So many different situations for the parents or guardians — newly arrived immigrants, single parents, recently laid-off, disabled and unable to work.

They all love their children — especially those often-non-communicative teens!

But they are all struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why it is so easy to ask you, in this season of giving, to support The Edmonton Sun’s Adopt-A-Teen program and our sister Christmas charities — The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton and Santa’s Anonymous.

Started by the Edmonton Sun in 1999, Adopt-A-Teen provides Christmas gifts for 13- to 17-year-olds living in underprivileged families.

With your support, each teen will receive a $50 Walmart gift card. Adopt-A-Teen’s goal is to deliver gift cards to the 6,000 teens living in families registered with the Christmas Bureau.

The Christmas Bureau is a 78-year-old Edmonton institution, ensuring every family in Edmonton, no matter their economic circumstances, can celebrate Christmas with a festive meal.

The Christmas Bureau mails out Sobeys/Safeway grocery gift cards or its volunteers deliver a box of Christmas-themed food to eligible families. The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million to provide food for 15,000 under-privileged families.

CHED’s Santa’s Anonymous is another Edmonton institution to be proud of. Started in 1963, Santa’s Anonymous provides age-appropriate gifts for every less-than-privileged child in Edmonton, from toddlers to 12-year-olds.  Next weekend, Dec. 15 and 16, hundreds of you will volunteer to be Santa,  delivering gifts to the homes of 25,000 children in low-income families.

It’s quite something. Working closely together, these three agencies ensure that no child, teen or family in Edmonton is forgotten at Christmas.

Every year, leading up to Christmas, the Christmas Bureau builds a database of all the families needing assistance, as well as verifying the need.

Santa’s Anonymous and Adopt-A-Teen use the Christmas Bureau list to determine the families with children and teens that need help. (The Edmonton Sun’s Adopt-A-Teen program is actually administered by the Christmas Bureau.)

Please, please, please — add a teen, a child or a family to your Christmas list.

Credit card donations can be made online at, (click on ‘get involved’)  and

Santa’s Anonymous has hundreds of donation boxes for children’s gifts all over the city. The Santa’s Anonymous website will tell you what’s most needed and other vital gift-giving information.

Cash or cheques for The Christmas Bureau and Adopt-A-Teen can be dropped off at donation desks in the Bonnie Doon, Kingsway, Londonderry, Southgate and Commerce Place shopping centres.

Cheques for the Christmas Bureau or Adopt-A-Teen can also be mailed c/o The Christmas Bureau, PO Box 16000, Edmonton, AB  T5J 4B4. To donate by phone, please call 780-454-6074 during office hours.

If families need assistance, please go to the Christmas Bureau website home page. Have them click on the “need help” button. Easy-to-understand directions are provided.

Thank you for helping our city’s less-than-fortunate families, kids and teens.

It is appreciated. Consider this thank-you letter to Adopt-A-Teen from a single-parent mom:

“Hi. I am writing  on behalf  of my son. He is 16 but he cannot do it for himself, as he has cerebral palsy. He cannot walk or talk, and does not know what’s going on. But he loves music. Thanks to the Adopt-A-Teen gift card, I was able to buy him musical toys for Christmas. Thank you so much. ”

Over the next two weeks, this series of columns on the progress of these three Christmas campaigns will hopefully move you to donate.

If you have questions unanswered by website, or if you would like to share a thank-you or an inspirational story, please call or e-mail me — Graham Hicks — at 780-707-6379,

Merry Christmas!