By Dale Woodard on December 5, 2020.
As they wrap up their first week of operation, MyCityCare’s Shop of Wonders is looking for more toys.
With the demand on par from previous years with roughly 20 families coming through the old Fire Hall No. 1 doors per day in the first week, MyCityCare director Jennifer Tribble said The Shop Of Wonders will happily take more toy donations as they continue to operate through to Dec. 23.
“We went into it with a few shortages in the teen department and our infants, so zero to two (years),” she said. “We’re still seeing that now and we’re still seeing we’re going to be needing a lot more gifts to fulfil the need this year, mostly in the price range of $20 to $30 items. That would be a huge help if anybody would like to participate in that.”
Those wishing to donate and bring the gifts directly to the Fire Hall at 402 2 Ave. S. or utilize one of the many drop boxes located around the city.
“For children, we have 633 as of (Wednesday) registered. We are going to take families all the way through to Dec. 23,” said Tribble. “We definitely need a push for toys.”
The need for more toys aside, the first week of operations is off to a generous start.
“It’s been amazing,” said Tribble. “We’ve had appointments going from nine in the morning until nine at night. The volunteer teams have been working non-stop. They’re Christmas elves, pretty much, doing from shopping to filling in gaps to helping out with volunteering. We’ve had a lot of great stories and families that have come through who have been really overwhelmed by the generosity of our amazing community. We’re going to keep going all the way through December.”
Roughly 80 families came through the Fire Hall doors during the first week, also paying heed to this year’s COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
“That’s fairly typical every year,” said Tribble. “We allow a little more spacing this year so we can have a cleaning cycle in between each family that comes through. After an appointment with a family, we go through and clean and sanitize everything and do all of our COVID procedures to make sure it’s a safe environment for the next family to come through.”
When families register, they’ll get an email the night before with a COVID health assessment that will do their symptoms check, said Tribble.
“We do it again at the door when they come in just to make sure that is covered. Plus, we’ve gone over and above with our cleaning measures, doing cleaning cycles in between each family plus having plexiglass and gloves for the shoppers when we’re helping them shop.”
Workers and shoppers alike have reacted positively to the COVID rules, said Tribble.
“I was checking in with the team (Friday) morning and she said people are relieved and grateful to be even filling out an assessment when they come in. It was a bit of a surprise. We wanted the experience to be warm and inviting and friendly when people are coming in and we thought maybe that was going to be something that would be a little bit different for them. But they’ve been very grateful we’ve been taking the appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.”
That includes the few hundred volunteers it takes to make Shop of Wonders run smoothly.
“In a typical year we would have 12 or 13 people just in our wrapping stations whereas this year we’re limited to four just so we can keep them six feet apart and in separate stations,” said Tribble.
To deal with the ongoing pandemic, virtual appointments can also be booked for families who have to stay home due to isolation or quarantine.
Even better, their Christmas gifts will be delivered to their doorstep.
“We can walk them over Zoom or walk them through the shop over the phone and help them pick out gifts for their children and we’ll deliver it for them,” said Tribble. “It’s something we were aware of going into the program, that this was something we were going to need to implement, and we’re ready to roll if anyone needs that service.”
For more information visit MyCity Care’s at http://www.facebook.com/mycitycarelethbridge/or their website at http://www.myvictory.ca/shopofwonders/.
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