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Making holidays brighter for local families, seniors

Volunteers sort and bag donations during last year’s Christmas Cheer program packing day.
Volunteers sort and bag donations during last year’s Christmas Cheer program packing day. - Katie Tower

Community support vital for continued success of Sackville Christmas Cheer program

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

The spirit of the season is upon us and local residents are encouraged to open their hearts and their wallets to spread a bit of ‘Christmas Cheer’ once again this holiday season.

Elizabeth Wells, chair of the Sackville Community Association that operates the annual Christmas Cheer program, said the community has always been generous in its support of this worthy cause and is confident this year will be no different.

“We’re hoping the community will come together like they always do,” she said.

Wells said approximately $30,000 was raised last year to provide a helping hand to local families and individuals in need. She said this level of community support is vital for the continued success of the annual Christmas Cheer campaign, which helps out an average of about 250 families and several dozen individuals each year in the form of food vouchers, toy bags for young children, gift cards for teens, and fruit baskets for seniors.

She said it’s a challenging time of year for many people and buying gifts or getting a Christmas dinner on the table just wouldn’t be possible without the extra help from Christmas Cheer. Whether it’s elderly shut-ins or working poor families who are struggling to get by, or perhaps even single parents whose spouse has died and is having difficulty managing the bills, the program benefits many.

“We live in an economically-disadvantaged area, where there aren’t as many job opportunities as some of the more urban areas,” said Wells.

Fortunately, there are plenty of people in the Sackville area willing to lend a helping hand.

“I think people here are very community-minded. It’s a very tight-knit community and people simply want to help those around them.”

Wells, a deacon with the Anglican Church, said much of her outreach work is focused on community involvement and working with the poor; and so her role with the Sackville Community Association and Christmas Cheer simply extends those efforts.

“A deacon’s role is to bring the church to the world and the world to the church. So we work on things like Christmas Cheer that have a direct impact on people. It’s very satisfying,” she said.

Also satisfying is seeing those who have been a recipient of the Christmas Cheer in the past turn around and give back by volunteering themselves once they’ve gotten back on their feet, said Wells, which happens often.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars and toys have been donated to the Christmas Cheer program since its inception in 1967. Last year alone, thanks to the generous donations, Christmas Cheer provided assistance to more than 600 individuals from the Sackville area, including more than 160 children.

“We’re very grateful to the community for supporting us all these years,” said Wells.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • If you are aware of an individual or family in the E4L mailing area needing assistance this holiday season, contact Wells at 536-1063.
  • If you wish to make a cash donation, you can drop off or mail your donation, payable to “Christmas Cheer”, to: The Royal Bank, 103 Main St., Sackville, NB, E4L 4B1.
  • Toy, clothing and other gift donations can be dropped off at the Sackville United Church at 110 Main Street during office hours from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
  • Wells said toy donations can include items such as dolls, books, games, puzzles, toy trucks, baby items and more. She suggests donations that don’t take up too much space or anything that requires batteries or electronic equipment to play them on.

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