Christmastime isn’t just about trees, lights and presents. It is also about giving to those in need.
Through the Christmas Goodwill program at Woolwich Community Services, there are nearly 200 low-income families that will be making merrier this yuletide season.
Kelly Christie, director of community support at WCS, says making sure everyone gets a happy Christmas morning is the focus of the program.
“I think it is a really hard time for some parents to provide for Christmas. We have families that, even though they are eligible for supports all year round through the food hampers, Lunch Crunch, they manage on their own, but they come for Christmas because it is for kids. Christmas is very expensive,” she said.
Families looking for extra support for Christmas morning and a holiday dinner register with WCS, and they are matched up with a sponsor. A sponsor can be a business, a family or an individual willing to help fill a Christmas wish list. There are also WCS Christmas trees at the main office and other locations for those looking to provide individual items on someone’s wish list.
“It is going amazing so far. It is a really, really good. We have lots of families registering early, we are gathering sponsors, we have our wish trees set up. We have people calling for more stars,” said Christie, adding there is still time for families to sign up, and for sponsors to start shopping. “We are giving the hampers out on Dec. 15. There is still time. If someone is living in Woolwich Township or in the northern part of Wellesley Township, they can register for a hamper if they are in need. If we don’t already know them, we will have to confirm their address and their income. Then it goes to how many people are in their family, and we use Stats Canada low-income cutoff, so we keep it consistent.”
WCS tries to make the contributions equal, setting spending limits for the sponsors. The idea is to make Christmas manageable for families who may want to do it on their own next year.
“We want every family who is receiving to get about the same value for each child in the hopes that if they can do it next year on their own, that it is not too extravagant,” said Christie. “When people are sponsoring a family, we suggest $45 for toys and $40 for clothes and then what happens is, we ask them to take something off that wish list, and then we put those on the stars.”
The stars adorning the trees around Elmira add that little extra something.
“It is for people who want to lend a hand but can’t sponsor a whole family. It is great. You can just go take a star off a tree and know that is something that kids have asked for on their wish lists,” shared Christie. “It makes it a whole community event and it makes everything manageable for the families. Christmas is crazy enough already.”
Along with filling Christmas wish lists, families receiving a Christmas Goodwill hamper will be able to provide a full holiday meal for their families.
“They are getting the gifts and toys, but also the gift card for Food Basics for a Christmas dinner with a turkey, the ham, and all the food the Kiwanis collected last weekend,” explained Christie. “It is a crazy amount. It is beyond words. It is amazing. They get a full Christmas.”
There is still time to sign up to receive a hamper, or to sponsor a family. The deadline for gift drop off is Dec. 9.
For more information call WCS at 519-669-5139.