54 Christmases made merrier

Staff at the Children’s Resource Council in High Prairie sorts through toys for Christmas packages that also include food vouchers for Santa’s Little Helpers program. Left-right, are Brighter Futures program co-ordinator Nilda Dube, Brighter Futures Next Steps program co-ordinator Tanya Auger, Good Steps program co-ordinator Valarie Willier, CRC executive director Naal Sharkawi and program assistant Kimberley Rennie.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie families and other less fortunate people celebrated Christmas with food and gifts provided by a local family organization.
A total of 54 Christmas care packages with food vouchers and toys were delivered by Santa’s Little Helpers at the Children’s Resource Council.
Packages included toys and gifts for children, CAO Naal Sharkawi says.
“We served 43 families with 99 children and also 11 adult individuals.”
Santa’s Little Helpers were ready to prepare more packages considering the rising cost of food and other amenities.
“We were expecting closer to 60 applications,” Sharkawi says.
The charity committee also voted in favour of increasing the value of the vouchers to families to offset inflation, he notes.
Santa’s Little Helpers delivered 51 Christmas packages in 2021 and 20 in 2020.
Since 2020, the CRC has replaced food hampers with food vouchers.
“This gives families the flexibility to pick what they want for Christmas dinner,” Sharkawi says.
Vouchers allow recipients to buy groceries and supplies at Freson Bros. except tobacco and lottery tickets.
He reminds people that the program is committed to serve all those in need.
“We want everyone to have an amazing Christmas,” Sharkawi says.
“Talking to some families, we have heard ‘we didn’t apply because we did not think we would be approved’.”
He urges those in need to apply.
“With other programs in the region, we are hoping that families and others utilize a program to ensure they are taken care of,” Sharkawi says.
Santa’s Little Helpers appreciates the support from the community.
“We had amazing support from the community,” Sharkawi says.
“Citizens and businesses from the High Prairie region always step up and their generosity is unparalleled.
“Helping families and ensuring children and youth have an amazing Christmas is our goal and without the support, we could not make this happen.”
A total of 34 gifts were collected under the Angel Trees at the Children’s Centre, Revolution Ford and Revolution Chevrolet.
“We received some great gifts and eight children were able to receive bicycles,” Sharkawi says.
High Prairie Red Apple store donated $7,891 from Fill-a-Sleigh Day on Dec. 3 and the Together We Care Toy Drive and a cheque for $1,104 that allowed the CRC to buy more toys and to buy stocking stuffers for youth.
The CRC thanks staff and volunteers in the community for all their time and service.
“Due to the extreme drop in temperatures, a majority of our volunteers were unable to make it in,” Sharkawi says.
Staff stepped up and made sure everything was ready and delivered in time for Christmas.

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