FCSS needs help to bring Christmas to community

The ‘Community Christmas Campaign’ offers a number of ways for Lacombe and area citizens to help out community members

The ‘Community Christmas Campaign’ offers a number of ways for Lacombe and area citizens to help out community members around Christmastime.

The program is organized by the Lacombe & District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and is divided among three tiers.

The campaign includes the Christmas Food Certifi cate Fund, New Coats for Kids and Santas Anonymous.

“All of these programs, we want the public that is supporting them to know that these individuals are thankful and are eligible for this program. I think that’s important to note.

None of these programs could run without people supporting them,” said Jan Pocock, volunteer and community services coordinator for FCSS Lacombe.

“Lacombe FCSS wants everybody to enjoy the holiday season – everyone. If you know of somebody or a family that might need a bit of help, tell them to come out here and meet us so we can help them.”

The Christmas Food Certifi cate Fund gives grocery certifi cates to individuals to purchase their own food for the month of December.

Pocock said FCSS decided to take this route because not everyone celebrates Christmas and with cultural and dietary restrictions and needs, it gives the person receiving the certifi cate the freedom to purchase what they need.

“Our belief is that every family has the right to choose the food they want to eat within their family.

“We’re giving them the choice, we’re giving them the ownership – they can go to the store, pick out the food they want to supply to their families for their Christmas celebration,” she said.

This campaign has gone on for many years and is sponsored by individuals and businesses within the community of Lacombe and the neighbouring municipalities of Lacombe County, Alix, Clive, Blackfalds, Mirror, Tees and Joffre.

“Some people don’t have a big Christmas meal so they buy food staples like meat,” she said.

“They can use the grocery money however they choose and that gives them choice. People donate money to the fund and then we funnel it in, screen our applicants and the money goes out to people who are eligible for the program, based on income, and notice of assessment from the previous year.”

FCSS records indicate that last year the program assisted 387 individuals to purchase groceries for the month of December.

Santa’s Anonymous is run by the Lacombe Kinsmen, with facilitation through FCSS. The two organizations partner efforts, volunteers and time to present families with individualized gifts. As people apply, they provide some information into what their kids are wanting and gifts are chosen specifi cally for those kids.

“People apply and are screened and then give us some ideas of what they are looking for. We give that information to the Kinsmen, who purchase and wrap the gifts and then volunteer Santas deliver them to the homes of the individuals,” said Pocock.

Gifts for teenagers are usually the most diffi cult, so Pocock recommends making the excursion a family event and allowing kids to pick out gifts for their age group.

“If you have a teenager, take them out and let them choose something that they would like.

“If you have an eight-year-old, let them pick out something that they’d want. It’s a great family activity, and gets everyone involved,” she said.

New Coats for Kids is the third portion of the campaign and includes a drive for new, warm winter clothes.

Pocock said the idea behind giving people new and not recycled gear is to provide those families with the same experiences of families who can afford to purchase new winter wear each year.

New Coats for Kids includes all aspects of winter wear – snow pants, boots, toques and gloves. Items are purchased, donated and then distributed to families who get to choose which styles and colours they would like.

Families are given a voucher for a certain amount of money that allows them to purchase the new items at a discounted price.

Donations from community members are needed to continue these programs. Information for eligibility and applications are available on the Lacombe FCSS web site.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com