By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 28, 2023.
With the big day less than a month away, local charities are rolling out their Christmas campaigns to help those in need this holiday season.
As part the campaigns, Monday saw the official launch of Toy Mountain at Centre Village Mall.
Part of the Christmas Hope initiative – a collaboration of six organizations comprising Volunteer Lethbridge, Interfaith and Lethbridge food banks, Lethbridge Family Services, MyCityCare, and The Salvation Army – all the toys collected at the mountain will go directly to children in the community. Danielle McIntyre of Interfaith Foodbank said Christmas hope is anticipating serving around 6,500 children this year, however, there is a good chance that number will increase.
“It is going to be a year where there is definitely more need in the community and we’re just counting on campaigns like Toy Mountain to help us keep up with the demand,” said McIntyre.
In past years the organizations have run their own programs, but as a collective McIntyre says they are able to maximize their resources and limit duplications.
“When we work together like this, every agency can do as much as it can possibly do without getting overwhelmed, because you’ve got other partners to share that workload with, but we all maintain our own programs, our own donors, our own identity and do what we do towards the effort that is going to serve the entire community.”
With the current economic situation and the sting of inflation felt by all, McIntyre said it’s more important than ever to help those in need in the community.
“It’s going to be a juggle this year and we’re really going to rely on that community support, but the good thing is I think we’re all feeling it this year, in terms of how far that dollar needs to go.”
Thanks to the collaboration, McIntyre said clients are given the option of the toy service that works best for their family. Angel Tree, which delivers directly to the home, Toys for Tots, which allows parents to be involved in the toy selection process, and Shop of Wonders, a full family experience that offers with child minding for parents who want to keep the surprise for Christmas morning.
Toy Mountain has been an annual drive for nearly 20 years and the collection will be managed by The Salvation Army. It is one of many toy drop-off points throughout the city.