Christmas Wish Breakfast supports Central Alberta families

The third annual event focuses on helping children in need

What has grown to become a City tradition as Christmastime approaches is set to run Nov. 18th at the Black Knight Inn.

The Third Annual Christmas Wish Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. the morning of Nov. 18th, running through to 11 a.m.

Organizers encourage folks to kick off the Christmas season by bringing a new, unwrapped toy, enjoying a delicious breakfast and also taking in some Christmas spirit at the event, which is sponsored by the Red Deer Firefighters Children’s Charity, the Black Knight Inn, IFR Workwear, Stantec, Save-on-foods, Kraze 101.3 and and X100.7.

From the start, the focus has always been on helping children in need, said Lynn Van Laar, Christmas Wish Breakfast chair.

Van Laar started up the event, having seen a similar event held in Vancouver when she lived there.

“It’s something that I always had in the back of my mind,” she said, recalling how she would attend the breakfast in Vancouver.

When she moved to Red Deer, she knew it was something she wanted to see in her new community.

“I don’t want for parents to feel that they can’t provide for their children,” she said. “This is just a little something we can do to help families. We just want families to all be able to have something, because it’s hard on families and kids.”

As to the beginning, it began with a simple conversation.

“One day, we were having brunch at the Black Knight Inn. We were leaving and Ken Mandrusiak was sitting in his office. I went in there and said, hi, you don’t know me, but I want to talk to you about something. So I told him about the premise of it and he said, yes, he was in,” she recalled.

“We are giving people the opportunity to feel good about what they are doing and then in return they get to enjoy a nice breakfast, have a visit from Santa, and there is entertainment,”she said, adding that hopefully a few mascots will be dropping by to add some fun to the event as well.

Last year, about 700 people attended the breakfast.

“People come and go – we have the room set up for about 300 or so. People come, they drop off their gifts, have something to eat, listen to the entertainment, have a few pictures taken with Santa and the mascots, and then they move on,” she explained, adding that some guests prefer to stay for the entire event.

“We also get some money contributed, so that money we give directly to the agencies. Anything they are missing, they can pick up with that,” she said.

Meanwhile, there is a consistent need for toys in the City again this year.

“We continue to see an increasing number of families in our community that could use some help at Christmastime. With our community’s generous support, countless families and children are able to enjoy their Christmas,” notes a release. There is a particular need for gifts suited to the young teenage group as well, she said.

A list of suitable gift ideas will be posted on the Christmas Wish Breakfast Facebook page, she added.

The Breakfast will also continue to support the Red Deer Salvation Army and Red Deer Christmas Bureau by gathering donations of new toys for children again this year.

Cash donations to these agencies will also be accepted, and a charitable receipt provided if requested.

“We also never turn anyone away. If someone doesn’t bring a gift, we don’t turn them away – that’s not what this is about. It’s about giving back to the community.”

Again, find them on Facebook at ‘Christmas Wish Breakfast’.

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