By GRAHAM HICKS
A volunteer armada is about to descend on our city.
The upcoming weekend (Dec. 15 and 16, 2018) is delivery day(s) for two of the three Edmonton Christmas charities that work hand-in-glove to make sure every child in the city, from toddler to 17-year-old, has a Christmas gift, that every family can sit down to a delicious Christmas dinner without worrying about the cost.
Thousands – literally – of volunteer drivers will rally at the Santa’s Anonymous new permanent home in the Jerry Forbes Centre (12122-68 Street – close to the now-closed Coliseum), to pick up and delivery toys to the families of 25,000 children – so mom and/or dad or guardian has something from Santa for every kid.
Over at St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School in the northeast, the children and teachers willingly turn over their gym for a few days to the Edmonton Christmas Bureau. Volunteers unload trucks full of food from the North Central Co-op, sort all the goodies into boxes for every family that prefers a food box delivered to their door rather than mailed-out Sobeys/Safeway gift certificates.
Then, early Saturday morning, hundreds more volunteer drivers will arrive at the school to load the boxes, filled to the brim with delicious Christmas goodies, into their cars and drop them off with a cheery “Merry Christmas” to always appreciative families in need.
In the Christmas Bureau administrative office, volunteers are just about finished processing and mailing out Adopt-A-Teen gift cards ($50 Walmart gift cards) to the less-than-privileged parents/guardians of 6,000 teens between the ages of 13 to 17, to give to their children before or on Christmas Day.
Before Christmas … so the kids can use the gift card to buy presents – and sometimes even just food – for their families and their friends.
If you’d like to volunteer, please visit our three Christmas charities’ websites to register and get instructions; christmasbureau.ca, adoptateenedmonton.ca, santasanonymous.ca.
Each organization has specific jobs to be done, but, definitely, drivers are needed to deliver food and/or gifts. Many families, for many years, have made volunteer driving at Christmas part of their holiday tradition. Today’s parents are taking their teenagers as assistants, just as their parents did for them, helping develop strong social consciences.
So many good stories: Last year at the Christmas Bureau/Santa’s Anonymous/Adopt-A-Teen Walk-Up Days (this year on Dec. 20 and 21 at the Forbes Centre), a gentleman new to Canada – all alone and barely getting by – arrived for assistance. Noticing that some fellow immigrants faced a language barrier, he volunteered to help translate … and spent the rest of his time at Walk-Up Days as a volunteer translator.
“Now he doesn’t need help,” says Christmas Bureau Engagement Manager Stephanie Perelli. “He’s on his feet, and he’s returning to Walk-Up Days to give back, to again be a volunteer translator.”
Volunteerism is great – but all three organizations need cash. Cash to purchase and mail out 6,000 Adopt-A-Teen gift cards; cash for The Christmas Bureau to purchase and distribute food and grocery gift cards for 15,000 families. Cash is not quite as central to Santa’s Anonymous, as most of the (new) toys are donated, but cash is still needed when Santa’s finds itself short of gifts for certain age groups and must purchase toys.
Both the North Central Co-op and Sobeys/Safeway offer steep discounts by way of corporate support, but in the end, cash is needed to at least cover costs: $1.5 million for the Christmas Bureau, $300,000 for Adopt-A-Teen to meet its goal. As of Tuesday, December 11, 2018, The Christmas Bureau was about one-third of the way to its goal.
Be inspired by the likes of 9-year-old Alleah Sevigny, who, instead of presents at her birthday party, asked her friends and family to donate to the Christmas Bureau. Raised $240, Alleah did!
The easiest way to donate is online using a credit card – at adoptateenedmonton.ca, santasanonymous.ca (click on ‘get involved’) and christmasbureau.ca.
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 you know of families needing assistance, please direct them to the Christmas Bureau website home page. Have them click on the “need help” button. Easy-to-understand directions are provided.
If you have questions, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org.