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'It's that sliver of hope': Donations still needed as Lethbridge's Christmas Hope campaign reaches halfway point


Volunteers are halfway through this year's Christmas Hope campaign and demand has kept everyone busy.

"We've had a really good response from our community," said Dryden Roesch, marketing co-ordinator with Lethbridge Family Services' (LFS) Angel Tree Christmas campaign.

LFS, the Salvation Army, MyCityCare's Shop of Wonders, Volunteer Lethbridge, the Interfaith Food Bank and the Lethbridge Food Bank have all partnered to help a record 10,000 individuals this year.

This is the 17th year the six organizations have partnered to help make Christmas brighter for those in need.

"Every Angel Tree family, to us, is not just a piece of paper," Roesch said.

"We do meet them, we do hear their stories and we live their stories as well as we talk to them, so for us, it's a very community-driven initiative."

Last year's campaign saw 8,000 individuals supported.

Salvation Army Lt. Zachary Marshall says this year's donations have been "a mixed bag."

"Our kettle campaign, which is in five different locations in Lethbridge, that money helps support our Toys for Tots campaign. That's been really well and, as of this morning, has raised $43,000, which is near the halfway mark of our $100,000 goal," Marshall said.

"In terms of our toy donations, we've found that those donations are a little bit down this year, understandably."

He says the rise in the cost of living and inflation have had an effect.

"Times are tough for everybody but we are really needing a big push in these last days," Marshall said.

The Christmas Hope campaign plans to help 6,500 kids and 3,500 adults.

"All of our programs are wonderful," said Tanya Lister, program and volunteer co-ordinator for MyCityCare's Shop of Wonders.

"They are all done slightly different, but all of the programs meet the need of making sure every family in Lethbridge and area gets to experience the warmth of Christmas."

The campaign also focuses on helping Lethbridge's two food banks.

"In April, between the food banks, we served just a hair over 1,000 households," said Mac Nichol, executive director of the Lethbridge Food Bank.

"That being said, we're doing that alone this month, so we've seen an increase like never before."

Nichol says community events such as the Lethbridge Police Services' Charity Check Stop have helped ease some of the pressure on donations.

"The big thing we are in need of is dry pasta … so those spaghetti noodles, rotini," he said.

"Kraft Dinner and ramen and instant noodles are always important. Canned vegetables, fruit and soup go a long way for us and we are desperate for them at this point."

With 17 days until Christmas, Nichol says it's warming to see the community step up to donate, but he wants to remind everyone support is still needed once the holidays are over.

"The need doesn't go away," he said.

"Usually, we see a similar amount of hampers in January as we do in December but we don't have as near of volunteers or funds or food to support that need. This year, we're prepared for it -- we're making sure we have it set aside -- but it is still something we will continue to have, especially leading into this new year."

With needs changing every day, organizers say checking the Christmas Hope website is the best way to stay up-to-date with items needed.

"I think it really goes a long way to just fostering hope in our community in a time when there's a lot to be sad about, there's a lot to be upset about," Marshall said.

"That little sliver of hope, I think, goes a long way." Top Stories

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