May 30th, 2024

Annual Angel Tree campaign providing care for community


By Lethbridge Herald on November 13, 2021.

Lethbridge Family Services CEO Sandra Mintz is surrounded by toys as she helps launch the annual Angel Tree campaign Friday at the Melcor Centre toy depot. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge Family Services launched their 29th annual Angel Tree campaign on Friday and this year the campaign has given a southern Alberta family the opportunity to honour the memory of their baby girl. 

Emily and Alex Geerligs’ daughter Madison passed away just over a year ago. To commemorate what would have been her first birthday they decided to make a donation to Angel Tree. 

Trina Tymko, campaign chair of the Angel Tree committee said during Friday’s launch they were not prepared to be as emotional as they have been so early in the campaign. 

“I can attest that we have cried more than we thought we would this early as we have already witnessed our generous community coming together for those in need,” said Tymko. 

Speaking later in the day, Emily Geerligs explained how her community in Enchant came together to make an even bigger donation in her daughter’s name. 

“It all started because we were approaching our daughter’s first heavenly birthday, it started just as a family. The four of us were going to go pick something out that we would’ve want to given to her and we were going to donate it in her honour,” said Geerligs. 

But it did not stop there. To her family’s surprise, friends, family and neighbours decided to do same. 

“So many great friends, family and neighbours, people in our community that wanted so badly to do something for us, with her one year coming up that this toy drive in lieu of her first birthday seemed like the perfect way to everyone to contribute,” said Geerligs. 

She added that it was a beautiful thing and it was something that is actually very needed.

“And we thought, you know, we didn’t have a lot of joy, we can’t celebrate her birthday the way that we wanted to, but we will be able to bring joy to other families and other little children this Christmas this way,” said Geerligs. 

Emily said she was hesitant when first approached by LFS about sharing her story. 

“My husband Alex, he said that maybe there is people out there in our similar situation, maybe they are trying to think of a way to honour their child, and maybe they like this idea and if they adopt something like this just think of all the additional children who would experience joy this Christmas,” she said. 

Their small hamlet of friends and family gathered and brought in over 200 gifts, in addition to $250 in cash and gift cards, showcasing the power of community. 

Lethbridge Family Services CEO Sandra Mintz says she has seen the growth of program blossom over the years since Angel Tree’s start.

“This amazing space is testament on how much Angel Tree has grown over the years. From a small program which assisted 300 children in need 29 years ago, to helping nearly 3000 children, youth and families last year,” said Mintz. 

The space where the Angel Tree Toy Depot is located has been donated by Melcor Development for the second year in a row and more than 100 businesses, schools and organizations have agreed to collect and donate gifts for Angel Tree, with the list still growing. 

“We have been receiving blankets, quilts, scarfs, and toys for months now and this is just the beginning,” said Mintz.  

Mintz shared an anecdote from last year’s campaign about a man who came into the depot with a wrinkled $5 bill and asked if they would accept such a small donation towards Angel Tree. 

“It’s all that he had and we graciously accepted his gift. This man who lives in a limited income through AISH inspired us all. ‘What would Christmas be without happy children?’ he asked, and then exited the room as quietly as he has entered it.” 

Donations can be dropped off at Angel Tree Toy Depot located at Melcor Centre, Unit #240 – 200 4 Ave. South or Lethbridge Family Services at 1107 2A Ave. North or the dozens of other area drop-off locations. For a full list of drop-off locations, or to find information on how to access the assistance of the Angel Tree program, visit http://www.lfs.ca.

Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter

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