June 15th, 2024

Shop of Wonders saw record year for Christmas donations

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 18, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Jen Tribble, with MyCityCare, says the holiday campaign with Shop of Wonders was a great success with over 1,700 kids served throughout the holiday season.

The holidays are over and it is time to reap the rewards from all the loot that was under the Christmas tree.

For many in Lethbridge those gifts consisted of help from volunteers and community members donating time and presents. This year The City of Lethbridge launched the Christmas Hope Campaign, combining services that help the less fortunate, making sure Christmas cheer was there for everyone in need.

The Shop of Wonders was one of those organizations working under the Christmas Campaign, run by the non-profit MyCityCare. Located this year in its pop-up location on 3rd Ave South, MyCityCare volunteers and organizers decked the halls to the nines with holiday cheer, re-creating a shop that would be the envy of a certain jolly old man.

“We definitely could not have done it without the support of so many people in our community, from donors, to the City of Lethbridge, to our volunteers who make things happen,” said Jen Tribble, director of MyCityCare. “It was our biggest year that we have ever seen by far. We had over 1,700 kids that were served through the program. It was incredible to see the generosity and collaboration that came together to make it happen. Across all of our Christmas Hope organizations, everybody saw an increase and (we) definitely had additional need this year. It was amazing to see our community rally together to make that happen.”

Witnessing the largest year in donations and use of the Shop of Wonders, MyCityCare understands the challenge of recent economic struggles in its community.

“More families accessing the program than usual,” said Tribble. “We had more people register early this year, more people identifying that they had needs earlier, which is a different trend than we have seen previous years. It is interesting to see how that is affecting the future of other programs, and how that looks for this year (2023) for other programs and people identifying their needs earlier.”

With the rise of insolvencies in Alberta, the workload for these organizations will rise as well.

“The trajectory of this year is probably going to be very similar. We do a program in the summer called Stuff the Bus, and we partner with the community to do the Ready Set Go Fair, and we saw an increase in that,” said Tribble. “We have to change and pivot every year, it is one of those things where, during the last two years, we saw people re-evaluate their time spent in different areas of life. […] We are constantly having to recruit volunteers and train them, putting new people into leadership positions and different types of things with training. The turnover has been interesting, but I think it is reflective of people re-evaluating their priorities in the season.”

With the holiday season done, it doesn’t mean a break for MyCityCare, as they prepare for warmer weather and new campaigns.

“We are heading into the next campaign that we are doing called Night to Shine, that is an event worldwide,” said Tribble. “We are hosting that February 10, and we are looking for volunteers. It is a fun inclusive event that is open to the whole community. If you are interested in getting involved let us know.”

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