April 12th, 2024

MyCityCare opens door to shop for struggling families


By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 21, 2023.

Volunteers tour the toy-filled rooms and displays as MyCityCare has transformed the Bowman Building downtown into its annual Shop of Wonders for this year's Christmas season. Herald photo by Ian Martens

MyCityCare has opened the doors to its annual Shop of Wonders for this year’s Christmas season.

The shop helps families struggling with financial burdens to acquire gifts for their children.

Shop of Wonders was created with the goal in mind to help families in need during the Christmas holidays with a variety of donated toys families can pick from to provide for their kids for Christmas.

“What we do is we set up a toy shop type environment where the kids get to come in with their parents and the parents get to pick up gifts for their kids and their kids get to pick up gifts for their parents,” says MyCityCare executive director Jennifer Tribble.

Families struggling financially this Christmas season can register online to experience the Shop of Wonder at https://mycitycare.ca. Shopping is done through appointments. The shop will be open until mid December. At the shop, people can select gifts for children up to the age of 17 at no cost.

The shop is located in the Bowman Building downtown across from the Lethbridge Public Library.

Tribble said both toy donations and volunteers to staff the shop are needed.

“We really want to create an environment where they can just come and get the resources they need for their family to celebrate in the holiday season. This is going to be a huge year for us, we’re definitely still needing support for toys and volunteers.”

Donations and volunteers can get more details at https://mycitycare.ca. Shop of Wonder is partnered with MyCityCare Christmas Hope.

Tribble voiced how Shop of Wonder works with families in need.

“We’ll have some volunteer elves who will host them through their shopping experience. And then when they’re done, we do a big gift wrap for them, and wrap all their toys and give them everything they need to celebrate Christmas,” said Tribble.

It is expected the shop could have nearly 2,000 children visiting this season, with last year’s shop serving nearly 1,700. Tribble said some families may even have the option of gifts being delivered to them.

“Some families, they might not want to go and have a shopping experience. They might feel like it’s more dignified for them to choose something more like a delivery. So it’s important that we give people options, and then they can choose what works best for them.”

Tribble voiced the impact inflation has had on families this season and the great need for those who have the means to donate toys or volunteer to help in the Shop of Wonder.

“There’s such a need for donations, we’re expecting an increase just due to you’re seeing inflation and groceries and utility bills and all those things. And we’re also seeing just numbers overall and social service providers going up right now. And so, I think there’s just a lot of families who need help and support this holiday season.

“We are putting out a strong call for donations right now. We definitely are going to need donations going all the way through to pretty well the week before Christmas. If anyone has it on their heart to give or to be a part of that and make a difference for a local family this Christmas, we would appreciate that,” said Tribble.

MyCityCare is an organization which helps local families put food on their tables. It also provides clothing and offers comfort to the city’s vulnerable. Its focus, says MyCityCare’s website, is “mobilizing an army of volunteers to take action and meet needs in their own backyards. We believe in empowering local individuals to meet needs where they live with dignity to those who are hurting by resourcing them to meet those needs.”

The organization says its Shop of Wonders “offers a haven for parents facing financial hardships. . .hop of Wonders embodies the true spirit of giving and spreads holiday cheer to families during challenging times, ensuring that every child experiences the wonder and delight of Christmas.”

For every $80 donated, MyCityCares can support a child during the Christmas season.

Other locations are set up in Taber, Claresholm, Okotoks and Calgary. The organization serves a total of 63 communities and in the 2022-23 academic year, it distributed 90,984 lunches to school children dealing with food insecurity.

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