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Local FCSS Christmas programs see a steep hike in demand

‘We couldn’t do it without those community members helping us’
Volunteers help with organizing donations for FCSS Christmas programming. Photo submitted

Staff members at Lacombe FCSS are seeing a steep increase in demand this year for the organization’s Christmas programs.

Each holiday season, FCSS launches the Fill a Fridge and the Coats for Kids programs, and they also work with the Lacombe Kinsmen on the Santa’s Anonymous program as well.

“The need has increased ten-fold this year,” said Wendy Griffin, projects manager for Lacombe FCSS. “We are seeing more applicants than ever come through our doors looking for those services,” she said.

“Folks can apply online or they can come into the office and apply here as well,” she said.

For Coats for Kids, gift cards for the new coats and boots can be used at local suppliers.

The last day to apply for that program is Dec. 12.

Meanwhile, anyone wishing to donate can do so online at or by dropping into the office which is located on the second floor of the Lacombe Memorial Centre.

Staff say that part of the reason for the bolstered level of need across the board is that Lacombe saw many new families setting in town through the year, plus there has been greater exposure to FCSS programming. The Christmas programs also serve the entire County including the communities of Alix, Clive, and Bentley.

As mentioned, there is also the Christmas Fill a Fridge program.

For this, FCSS has partnerships with all three grocery stores in the community as well as grocery stores in Alix, Clive, and Bentley.

Therefore, those who qualify for the program can have their own choices in what they would like for food for the holiday season.

Donations or applications can be submitted online or at one of the community partners - Lacombe FCSS, the Alix and Area Resource Centre, Clive FCSS, and Bentley Community Services.

Spearheaded by the Lacombe Kinsmen, the Santa’s Anonymous program also began taking applications in mid-November as well.

The Club has been setting up drop boxes for gift donations across the community, as well as one at the FCSS office, said Griffin.

Age groups that particularly need donations are those from babies through to the toddler years, and also kids ages 14-16.

Good ideas include everything from games and books to gift cards and items of clothing.

“We’d like to thank all of our past donors for their generous support for our Fill a Fridge program because it is a huge program that we run,” said Griffin, who recently came onboard with FCSS after working with Lacombe Big Brothers Big Sisters for several years.

“We couldn’t do it without those community members helping us. We just want to help and serve as many people in the community as we can,” she added. “We are also always blown away by the support from throughout the community - it’s very humbling to see how this community can pull together,” she said.

Another program of note - Lacombe FCSS also hosts monthly meals through the Backyard Friends program on the third Wednesday of each month except December.

“It’s a free event for anyone in the community who would like to come for a nice, home-cooked meal,” she said, adding that organizers have seen up to 200 people attend.

“It’s a wonderful program, and we get a lot of support from businesses around the community and church groups who donate their time to cook, do prep and clean up as well,” she explained. “The community really enjoys it.”

The next Backyard Friends meal is slated for Jan. 18.

Meanwhile, for Griffin, landing the new post at FCSS certainly brings a sense of fulfillment.

“It’s just where I love to be - helping people in the community and working with the great businesses and the great members of our community that all make it the best place to live.

“I’m really excited to be on the FCSS team, and hopefully I can bring some new programs for people who need our assistance.”

For more about Lacombe FCSS programs or how to donate, check out

Volunteers and staff organize the many donations that come in from the community for the various FCSS Christmas programs. Photo submitted

Mark Weber

About the Author: Mark Weber

I've been a part of the Black Press Media family for about a dozen years now, with stints at the Red Deer Express, the Stettler Independent, and now the Lacombe Express.
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