Christmastime is the season of giving

Red Deer has truly come alive with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Company Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, and family get-togethers are all underway as Dec. 25th approaches.

For many, enjoying all that the season has to offer is for the most part affordable. But for some, this season brings nothing but stress and financial hardship as they try to meet the expectations society seems to demand through non-stop commercial bombardment. Many Central Albertans may be feeling this stress for the first time as the economic downturn continues and more layoffs in the oilfield and now other industries are in full force.

Still, even though many’s circumstances may have changed in recent months, Christmastime isn’t known as the season of giving for nothing.

Despite their personal hurdles, whether financially stable or not, many choose to open their hearts and pocketbooks to help out the less fortunate.

Folks from Central Alberta in general and Red Deer in particular have frequently been described as a generous lot as well.

Local agencies have been putting out the word that demands for services continue to be high. Recently, a number of fundraisers were held including Stuff-A-Bus as well as the RCMP Charity Checkstop and the Salvation Army Santa Shuffle. While all of these events received support, the need remains and the community needs to be mindful that more donations are still needed.

The Red Deer Christmas Bureau says the need for toys for the Toy Depot are still needed and would especially be appreciated to help put smiles on kids’ faces Christmas morning. They are expected to help 1,200 children this holiday season – a number that has surged this year as demand continues to increase.

More and more families are struggling to not only provide the necessities day to day, but when the holiday season comes along those pressures escalate even further.

The Salvation Army has an annual program called Adopt-a-Family where folks are invited to contribute to hampers that are later distributed to those who need them.

This year, staff are seeking more people in the community to come onboard and support a family this holiday season.

And of course the Red Deer Food Bank has seen a surge in demand in the last number of months. Many first-time clients have been seen coming to their door. And officials with the agency are concerned not only about being able to keep up with demand over the next coming weeks, but in the next coming months as well.

It’s important to remember that these organizations and services plus other agencies in the region need consistent support, which makes such a profound difference for those who need a helping hand. It doesn’t take much to make a big impact – especially for children.

The need can seem overwhelming, to the point where many are tempted to throw up their hands and ask where does a person start?

But the size of the problem shouldn’t discourage anyone from contributing. Toss some coins in the Salvation Army kettles instead of simply offering the attendant a friendly smile or worse, looking the other way.

If everyone chipped in, even in a small way, enormous differences could be made and we can all enjoy the Christmas season even more.

The personal satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped someone in need is indeed a gift in itself.

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