WESTLOCK – The true meaning of Christmas is often found in not what you get, but what you give.
It is that holiday spirit that’s behind the annual Westlock and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Christmas Spirit campaign, which officially kicked off Nov. 14. The annual campaign helps families and individuals in need at Christmas time and is applications for the program by appointment until Dec. 9, while the collection of items continues year round.
“We always need donations — cash, toys for any age, and gift cards. Teens are always the high need, even gift cards for teens — (they) can go and purchase what they want with the gift card,” said FCSS program coordinator Maureen Schiller.
Residents wishing to partake in the program can call to make an appointment and fill out an application, to determine eligibility. All applications will be done in person this year, noted Schiller, adding that individual recipients receive food gift cards while families with children receive food gift cards as well as gifts. Previously, Santa’s elves helped fill orders during the campaign but this year they are returning to a shopping experience.
“Parents will come in, do the shopping and choose items for their children,” said Schiller, noting the shopping will take place at the Rotary Spirit Centre. “At the time of application parents will book a time to go in and shop.”
Donations for the Christmas Spirit campaign can be dropped off in large green tubs located at several spots around town, including public places and at local businesses. People can also drop off toys and cash at the FCSS office in Westlock or donate money through the Town of Westlock website. The Christmas bags provided to families and individuals will also have a food gift cards so that families can go to a store and purchase their own Christmas meal or foods they want.
Another way residents can help a family in need this Christmas is through the adopt-a-family program.
“We get agencies or businesses and sometimes some families that want to adopt or sponsor a family,” said Schiller, noting sponsors buy everything including gifts for the family. “They purchase a gift card for the food and then they would buy stocking stuffers and presents to sponsor the family.”