BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Santas Anonymous is back in full swing, seeking donations of gifts for children and youths, particularly those between the ages of 12-16.
Lacombe Kinsmen and organizer for Santas Anonymous Howie Bos said the older kids are usually the ones lacking gifts and they are hoping to change that this year.
“We can always use donations, especially for older kids. If it’s a family with younger and older kids, we will help with all of them but the older kids are usually what seems to lack. We have all kinds of stuff for the younger kids, but not as much with the teen-aged kids,” Bos said.
“We do have cash donations as well, so we can do some shopping and pick things out, but we hope to see a few more donations for those older kids and teens.”
Santas Anonymous is run in partnership with Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), who take requests from parents, accepts donations and helps to coordinate the drive.
Jan Pocock of Lacombe FCSS said she is thrilled to see another year coming together, and sees true value in having this program as it creates such happiness for the families involved.
“This program honestly makes me tear up. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to provide for these families. We get to show up at their doorstep with Christmas presents for their kids, and it is amazing,” she said.
“Sometimes the kids know we’re coming, and they look out the window and get excited to see our volunteers walk up. Sometimes, moms and dads sneak the presents into the house to pull out on Christmas morning, but either way it’s done, it is pure bliss for the families.”
Both Bos and Pocock said it is important to highlight the older kids in the program, ages 12-16, as mentioned, as those are usually the toughest age groups to find gifts for.
“Something we’d really like to shine a light on is that all kids want toys or presents to open on Christmas, whether you are a nine-year-old boy or a 14-year-old girl. We find that the ages of 12-16 are typically the ones that are lacking in gifts, as we receive tons for the younger ones,” Pocock said.
“We’d really like to encourage people to purchase toys or gifts for older kids. That could be pajama pants, hoodies, sports gear, electronics, outdoor or indoor games, books – all of those things are items that teens love.”
New this year is the addition of parent-wrapping nights, where parents who have applied to be recipients in the program are actually able to come into the facility, pick out and wrap the gifts for their own children.
Bos explained this is a great way to keep the families connected and allow them to make the most suitable choices for their children.
“We’re going to do a trial night this year where we have the parents of our families come in and wrap the gifts for their own kids. It helps when there is clothing and other gifts that we aren’t quite sure where to give them,” Bos said.
“If the parent night is successful, we will do that in the future. That way, the families can come wrap the gifts, bring them home and stick them under the tree and it’ll be a little more discreet that way as well.”
Drop off locations for cash or goods donations include Lacombe and District FCSS and the Kinsmen Club as well as various retailers.