November 15, 2019
LETHBRIDGE, AB – “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
That’s a quote from W.T. Ellis that is highly appropriate for the annual Angel Tree Christmas Campaign, which launched today, Nov. 14.
Businesses, schools and local organizations are coming together to prepare Christmas gift bundles for over 2,000 children, up to 18 years old.
Each gift package will be carefully packed and for every child, Lethbridge Family Services – which runs the event – tries to find something on their wish list, something that is inspirational to ‘fuel their imagination’ and something educational to ‘nourish their minds’, according to CEO Sandra Mintz.
“What it’s all about is partnering with 115 businesses and schools in Lethbridge and 19 surrounding communities to show the Christmas spirit and come up with gift bundles for approximately 2,200 children who come from families that need a little extra assistance at Christmas time,” she told LNN.
She said that last year, around 6,600 toys were gathered and placed into bundles, thanks to donations from community members, local businesses and organizations.
At a launch event Thursday morning, 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union presented a $5,000 gift to the Angel Tree initiative. 1st Choice has been supporting the event for 17 years.
“This is one of the key things that we do that kind of separates us from some of the other financial institutions in the marketplace. It’s one of the key activities that we drive and it just has such a great feel-good, I can’t help but smile [feeling] when you start thinking about [over 100] local businesses coming together and [making] sure that no child goes without a Christmas gift,” said Jamie McMullin, Branch Manager with 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union.
He noted that it’s very heartwarming to see a child have a memorable and happy Christmas.
“That’s the end result, absolutely, that the children have a good Christmas but the other piece that is really great to see is not only the staff at 1st Choice Savings getting together, setting up the tree and you know, the fundraising aspect and the comradery that comes with it but it’s also great when we’re out and about dropping off the sponsorship packages and we see local businesses are waiting and ready for them,” he said.
“It just gives you a good feeling that everyone’s pointed in the right direction and wants to help out these kids.”
1st Choice will be accepting new toys and cash donations at the following branches in Lethbridge, Cardston, Magrath and Taber:
· 1320 3 Avenue S., Lethbridge
· 45 Fairmont Boulevard S., Lethbridge
· 332 University Drive W., Lethbridge
· 70 3 Avenue W., Cardston
· 81 West Harker Avenue, Magrath
· 5227 48 Avenue, Taber
Donations can also be dropped off at other participating businesses and organizations. A full list can be seen at lfsfamily.ca.
The collection period goes until December 20, but LFS said they will work until December 24 if needed. Donations will be picked up at the various locations by Lethbridge Family Services before being put together in gift packages.
Mintz said not only does this program help put a smile on a child’s face, but it has a major impact on parents and the entire family.
“It’s a very emotional campaign and we end up hearing a lot from parents and kids but especially parents in terms of what the campaign has meant to them,” she said.
“We’ve had families [who have] been recipients of the Angel Tree effort in past years and are in a stronger position now and are able to give back, and in the process of doing so are quite open in telling their story and what it meant to them to have that bit of extra help at Christmas.”
She noted that for families that are struggling, Christmas can be a season that negatively affects their mental health, with the looming stress of providing a great gift and experience for their children.
“So, this campaign goes far beyond just having a present under the tree for children, it actually deals with significant mental health issues over the holidays.”
This season marks Angel Tree’s 27-year anniversary.