South Peace News
The Smoky River Christmas Voucher program returns in 2020 to support families and individuals.
Smoky River Family and Community Support Services [FCSS] leads the program in the Falher and McLennan areas.
Organizers expect the demand for the vouchers will be higher while people struggle during the pandemic
“We are aware that the financial climate this year is very different from previous years,” says FCSS director Crystal Tremblay, who co-ordinates the program.
“We are in the planning stages of making changes to the program to make the program fit our current situation.”
Applications will be available to the public from Nov. 12 to Dec. 10 at FCSS and municipal offices.
“We encourage those who have been affected by job loss or a significant wage decrease, as well as all low-income individuals and families, to access this program,” Tremblay says.
“We are recognizing that there are a large group of people who may be making a wage that is above the low-income threshold, but have seen a significant decrease in their income due to COVID.”
She also invites those who have received vouchers in the past to apply.
All personal information is confidential.
“We are here to assist in keeping this Christmas season as normal as possible,” Tremblay says.
The qualification process is also being revised to assist everyone.
In the past, the program has offered a voucher of $75 for a single, $100 for a family of two, $150 for a family of three, $200 for a family of four or five and $300 for a family of six or more.
“FCSS is in the process of accessing alternate funding options in order to accommodate an increase of applications,” Tremblay says.
Last year, 54 families and individuals received vouchers. In 2018, Smoky River FCSS handed out 74 vouchers that supported 202 people.
Financial donations for the voucher program are accepted at the Town of Falher office.
A voucher for household will allow each child under the age of 16 to receive a gift.
Red Apple in Falher hosts its annual toy drive Nov. 14 to Dec. 5.
“We strongly encourage people to donate,” Tremblay say.
“When you are looking at donating toys, please remember that although it is easiest to pick a cute toy for a young child, we do have older teenagers that often get missed.”
FCSS suggests board games, art supplies, makeup or sporting goods are great options for the teens.
Voucher applications will be available at the Smoky River FCSS office located in the Town of Falher building, or at the Town of McLennan, Village of Girouxville, and Village of Donnelly offices.
For more information, phone Smoky River FCSS at  837-2220.