June 22nd, 2024

Christmas Hope Campaign beacon of generosity in tough times; multi-agency campaign helps thousands in need over holiday season

By Lethbridge Herald on January 5, 2023.

Herald file photo - Major Donna Bladen and worker Chris Saprikin were part of the Salvation Army’s part of this season’s Christmas Hope campaign.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Christmas Hope Campaign wrapped up their 2022 season and through it, the organizations involved were able to provide 3207 adults and 6286 children a Christmas to remember, with toys under their trees and food on their table. 

In a public service announcement, the CHC said the campaign was possible because over 800 volunteers put almost 6000 hours of their time into it, by helping out the different organizations involved, which had an increase of 1921 individuals needing help over the holiday season. 

Salvation Army Community Family Services manager, Katherine Kuzminski, said they were able to help almost 1000 children find a little something under their tree from the donations received through Toys for Tots. 

“It was a challenging year because we had an increase in need and our donations were down,” said Kuzminski.

She said that even though it was a challenging year, they were able to provide toys to all the children that registered for it. 

Kuzminski said that many parents were able to go through the toy shop and choose toys for their children, but the last week of the campaign they made bundles for people to pick up. 

“We tried to package as much of the items in the kids’ wish lists as we could, we could not always give everything that the children wanted due to some donations challenges we faced,” said Kuzminski. 

Another organization that saw an increase in need was the Lethbridge Food Bank, with an increase of over 70 households needing help over the Christmas holidays, according to executive director Mac Nichol. 

Nichol said they served 600 households over the holidays which was an increase from the 530 they served the previous year. 

“We do plan every year to be able to cover up to 1000 households, so we were prepped and ready for that, so we didn’t have to say no to anybody which was great,” said Nichol. 

He said that even though they were able to get through the Christmas season, they usually have donations that come in through November and December that allow them to survive until about June the following year, but this year they have less stock than they normally have to sustain the food bank for the next few months. 

“This year we saw a big rise of different businesses wanting to help so either running through a food drive or coming in to help build hampers and the support that we found across that way was just invaluable,” said Nichols. 

He said the Christmas Hope campaign went well because having multiple agencies work together has really showed a benefit. 

“This way we were able to make sure that donations go where they need to, and is it taking a lot of stress off the food banks and we were able to focus on providing food,” said Nichols. 

Kuzminski echoes these words when it comes to the collaboration they received from the community. 

“The community support has been amazing — I know everybody’s feeling the challenges of our current economy so it’s appreciated, every donation that’s come in has made a difference and it will continue to make a difference moving forward,” said Kuzminski. 

Both organizations had one particular donor in common that helped out, the Caldwell Family. Through their Christmas with the Caldwells, they were able to donate toys to the Salvation Army Toys for Tots campaign and food to the Lethbridge Food Bank. 

“They got some wonderful gifts specifically targeting some of the higher needs groups that include the teens,” said Kuzminski. 

She said their donations are appreciated especially because they really do get to the target group and also their toys are current.

Nichol also expressed his gratitude to the Caldwell Family donations, which he is aware came from those in the community that visited their house, and therefore it was a community effort. 

“They’re not done, usually they keep it until after the break in January, but so far they have donated just over 1240 pounds of food, which helped us a lot,” said Nichols. 

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