A long-standing tradition has returned to Sylvan Lake for the holiday season to help those in need.
The Angels Anonymous Tree is once again in place at the Sylvan Lake DQ Grill and Chill and filled with cards and gift suggestions from the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau.
Pam Mitchell, co-owner of the Sylvan Lake DQ Grill and Chill, says the Angels Anonymous tree has been a part of the local store for the past 25 years or so.
It was originally started by the Dairy Queen corporation.
“Originally we were given a marketing budget to have card and such made up… When that I ended I had a number left over and when those ran out the Christmas Bureau has them printed to match the old one,” Mitchell said.
The tree is filled with cards submitted by the volunteers at the Christmas Bureau. These cards have the age and gender of a child who is part of the program as well as a couple items from their wish list.
Mitchell says the Angels Anonymous Tree is more personable than donating any old toy or even money.
“It also helps to give direction, so you aren’t going to the store and wondering what do I buy for a 10-year-old boy,” she said.
Janine Waldo, a volunteer at the Christmas Bureau, says the Angels Anonymous Tree is a great help to the non-profit, which is made up entirely of volunteers.
Waldo says the tree at Dairy Queen helps the volunteers at the Christmas Bureau prioritize their time between work and the Christmas Bureau.
“Most of us have full-time jobs on top of volunteers. Sometimes we just don’t have the time to go shopping for the kids,” Waldo said.
The tree also helps to get the kids exactly what they want.
Waldo says every donation is greatly appreciated, but this way the children can potentially see that specific item they have wanted on Christmas morning.
Those who take a tag off the tree can purchase on of the items off of the list or all of them, it is up to each individual.
Mitchell says she loves seeing how many gifts come in each year from the community.
“It is amazing to see the community come together on this. Especially in the past few years when it has been so hard for everyone,” Mitchell said.
She added every tag on the get claimed and it is very rare for one to not come back or go missing.
For Waldo, the support from the community means the world. She said the Christmas Bureau relies on the generosity of local businesses and community members.
“We really couldn’t do this without the community’s support,” Waldo said.
In the week since the tree has been set up, roughly half of the tags have already be claimed by community members.
The Christmas Bureau is still accepting registration for those looking for a little help this holiday.
Registration can be done up to Dec. 13, however the sooner the better when it comes to signing up for this program.
“If the families sign up early, that just gives us more time to get what is on their wish list,” said Waldo.
To register with the Christmas Bureau, an application form can be found online or at numerous locations around town. An appointment must be made to go over the application, and can be done by calling 403-348-9993.
Toys and gifts from the Angels Anonymous Tree can be returned to Dairy Queen until Dec. 9, after which they will be gathered and taken to the Christmas Bureau.