The 11 volunteer members of the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau have had a busy few weeks preparing holiday baskets for those in need.
The baskets have all been handed out and delivered, each package packed by hand and catered to each individual family.
The Christmas Bureau has been operating in Sylvan Lake for more than 20 years, helping families who are suffering from hard times.
“We help people in our community who don’t have the means right now to provide Christmas for their family,” explained Janine Waldo, a member of the Christmas Bureau.
While the Bureau does not like to say how many families they help every year, Giselle Campbell, co-ordinator for the Christmas Bureau, says the numbers are down this year.
“I think maybe it is a sign the economy is turning around,” said Campbell.
To help bring Christmas and the holidays to those in need in the community, the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau relies on donations and volunteers.
The operation is entirely run by volunteers, says Waldo, which is why they are so grateful to the help given by the community.
“We have a great community here. The people are so giving and have always been so supportive of us,” said Campbell.
The Bureau is supported through individual donations as well as initiatives through businesses in town.
Stores, corporations and private companies are all huge supporters of the Christmas Bureau.
On top of the Charity Check-stop, which took place on Dec. 2 in Sylvan Lake, Campbell says Dairy Queen is also offers a lot of support to the charity.
“They set up the Angels Anonymous tree every year in their restaurant, which brings in a lot of items for us,” Campbell said.
Pam Mitchell, owner of the Sylvan Lake Dairy Queen, says she is always appreciative of the generosity in the Town.
“The community have been very generous and we have regulars who come back every year!,” Mitchell shared in an email.
She added the tree, which has been housed in Dairy Queen for the past 23 years, is a great way to support the Christmas Bureau.
Every year the Angels Anonymous tree brings in a large number of toys for the Bureau, all of which were asked for by the children whose families had signed up. Popular items include hockey sticks and dolls.
This year a toy cat was also donated to Angels Anonymous, which sounded so real staff at Dairy Queen thought it was real.
According to Campbell, sporting equipment is always a welcomed donation to the Bureau.
“We try to put some sort of sporting good in every hamper we send out,” explained Campbell.
Waldo says the Bureau is always looking for more donations for teenagers, of any genders.
“It could be anything from makeup and skin care to sport stuff. Gift cards are also a great option, as many of the teenagers are asking for that now too,” said Waldo.
Campbell said the Bureau is also very grateful to the Ladies Auxiliary who help put together gifts for the moms.
“We love what we do here, and we are so grateful for the support we get from the community and local businesses,” said Campbell.
Many of the volunteers and supporter return each year to lend a hand or give a gift.
The Christmas Bureau also o supports an adopt-a-family format, which is also anonymous. In this an individual, business or group may adopt a family and look after their needs for the Christmas season.
Campbell says each hamper includes food vouchers for a Christmas dinner, gifts for the kids and something small for the parents.
“We support families of all sizes with kids up to age 17,” said Campbell.
Donations to the Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau can be made throughout the year, not just during the holidays. Donations can be dropped off at local toy boxes which can be found at Community Partners, Canadian tire, Community Centre, the library, NexSource Centre, Shoppers and Rexall.