It is once again the time of year where twinkle lights and Santa Claus dominate ones thoughts and vision.
For many though, the holiday season is also a time to give back to those who are in need. This is where the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau comes in.
The at least the last 25 years, the Christmas Bureau has worked with the residents of Sylvan Lake to families with children under the age of 17 who for whatever reason are unable to.
This year the Christmas Bureau Committe has been hard at work since the end of October, making sure everything is ready and in place for those in need this holiday season.
Janine Waldo, a member of the committee, says the group of women on the committee are very committed and work hard every year to support Sylvan Lake families.
“The people of Sylvan Lake are just excellent, they come through and help those in need every year,” said Waldo.
Every year the Bureau helps between 10-20 Sylvan Lake families who need a little help giving Christmas to their kids. And, every year, the residents of Sylvan Lake come through to help.
Waldo says Sylvan Lakers come together as families, groups and businesses to sponsor a family, or two, each year with out fail.
“We are really flexible, and can work with you on any budget if you want to sponsor a family,” explained Waldo. “All you have to do is give us a call and we will work with you.”
Even if sponsors are not found for every family that signs up, Waldo says the kids never go without.
Every year, for many years, the Christmas Bureau has partnered with the Sylvan Lake Dairy Queen for the Angels Anonymous Tree.
The tree, which was put up in DQ on Nov. 18, is decorated with tags of toys and gifts wished for by kids who are part of the program.
Waldo says every year she is blown away with the generosity of Sylvan Lakers.
“It works out, pretty much, that no kids who is registered with us will go without Christmas, even if we don’t have a sponsor set up for that family,” Waldo said.
When it comes to popular toys, Waldo says toboggans, skate boards and Lego is almost always seen on which lists.
On top of that, there is always the popular hot toy that every kid wants.
“We aren’t sure exactly what that is right now, it is always different each year,” said Waldo.
According to Toys R Us, some popular items for this holiday season include “no mess pets” and “gross stuff” like the game Pop-A-Zit.
For the teenagers who are signed up, a group of students from Ecole H.J. Cody School usually lend a helping hand by picking out gifts for their fellows.
Waldo says it is often easier for someone of a similar age to pick out gifts for another.
“Sometimes we have family who request to sponsor a boy or girl of a certain age so they can take their son or daughter shopping,” Waldo said, adding this isn’t very common.
“Most often though, people are just happy to help and tell us they will help whoever is in need.”
The Christmas Bureau held its registration on Nov. 18, however Waldo says a family can register up until the Christmas Bureau closes.
The Bureau closes for the season after the baskets are handed out on Dec. 16 and 17.
“We understand that sometimes you don’t know about us, or aren’t aware you need help in November, so we accept registrations [for the program] right up until we close basically.”
Registrations forms for Adopt a Family can be picked up at Community Partners or at the Community Centre.
Once a form is filled out, Waldo says the family will need to call the Bureau to make further arrangements.
Those looking to adopt a family this holiday season can call the Bureau at 403-348-9993 to make arrangements, or pick up a tag from the Angels Anonymous Tree at Dairy Queen.
“What’s nice about the tree, is each tag is an actual kid, not just something we made up,” said Waldo.
Gifts for the Angels Anonymous Tree can then be dropped off back at Dairy Queen, who will hold it until the Bureau is ready to start making up the baskets for families.
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