Tis 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. 25 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.

And an economy that is still struggling and slow to recover in general doesn’t help.

Still, Christmastime isn’t known as the season of giving for nothing. Despite their circumstances, 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. This year, that attribute is certainly critical.

Local agencies have been putting out the word that demands for services are high.

The Red Deer Christmas Bureau says the community’s needs are growing and that the fundraising activities for donations have actually dropped off. The need for cash donations and toys for the Toy Depot are crucial and would especially be appreciated to help put smiles on kids’ faces Christmas morning.

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. Last year, 140 families signed up for assistance and this year that number has grown further.

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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