SUNDRE – With the holiday season fast approaching, the Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society is once again gearing up to help alleviate stress and deliver some smiles for those who might otherwise struggle to conjure up Christmas cheer amid the ongoing pressure of housing affordability concerns.
“Greenwood Neighbourhood Place understands that the holiday season can be challenging for those in need,” said Bree Odd, the new Sundre Santas program director who stepped into the role after Cherie Johnson decided to pass on the reins last season following seven years serving in that position.
That’s why the society endeavours to continue its long-standing community tradition of offering to provide food hampers to people in need through the program, which was established in 1998, said Odd.
But while the society handles the organizational oversight and coordinates with a team of volunteers who generally prepare more than 100 hampers, “the program’s success is largely dependent on the support of community members,” she wrote by email.
Financial contributions as well as donations of non-perishable food items, gift cards, new toys, pajamas for youth ages 12 and under, toques, socks, as well as mittens for all ages are what enable the society to maximize the program’s potential.
“Last year, support from the community impacted many individuals, allowing them to embrace the holiday season and find hope,” she said.
Courtesy of the program’s dedicated volunteers in combination with the community’s support – whether from individual residents, other service groups, as well as local businesses – the society was last season able to bring some holiday spirit to 287 individuals by delivering a total off 119 hampers, she said.
“Every little bit helps reach the goal of assisting those in need in the community.”
Donations can be delivered directly at the GNP office, which is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 5, 96 2nd Ave NW on the west-facing side of the Sundre Community Centre building.
“We are accepting unexpired non-perishable food items, gift cards, and financial donations,” she said, adding charitable receipts are also available upon request for monetary donations of more than $10.
Additionally, donations of new toys and various articles of warm winter clothing are also welcome.
And the Magic of Christmas Sale, which last year made a comeback after being postponed because of the pandemic, is also back on the docket. The kids-only portion of the Christmas shopping event will take place at the Sundre Community Centre and is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. followed by an-open-to-all windup that runs from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The idea behind the sale is to provide children with an opportunity to peruse a selection of new and gently used items that they can purchase as Christmas presents for their families for only $1 per gift, she said.
“And the best part? The elves wrap the gifts for them, so they can take them home to put under the tree,” she said.
“You can bring smiles to children and their families on Christmas Day by donating new and gently used gift items, gift bags, and gift-wrapping supplies like ribbons, and to/from tags,” she said.
After previously sorting through all of the donations and preparing the hampers at Santas Workshop in the former Sundre Motors building, the society continues looking for another venue and she said the new digs will be announced at a later date.
In the meantime, anyone who lives in the Sundre school district and might be in need of a helping hand to get through the holidays is encouraged to complete a registration form that can be returned in person to the society’s office by Tuesday, Dec. 5.
Registration began Monday, Nov. 13 and forms can be found at the society’s office, Freson Bros., PharmaSave, the Sundre Family Pharmacy, PharmaChoice Sundre Community Drug Mart, as well as the Sundre Municipal Library.
Anyone interested in getting more information about either donating to, volunteering with, or registering for the program is invited to connect with Odd at 403-638-1011 or alternatively by email at [email protected]. Drop-in visits at the office are also welcome.