This year Pigeon Lake Santa’s Elves celebrated 21 years of donating food hampers to the community. With substantial donations from the Village of Pigeon Lake, Falun Coop, Mulhurst Fire Department and Lakedell Beef 4-H Club, founder Gilaine Porter says that they were able to provide enough hampers this year despite challenges posed by COVID-19.
21 years ago Porter and her husband Bob founded Pigeon Lake Santa’s Elves and since then the charity organization has only grown.
“But this year was like no other,” says Porter. “With all the stress of COVID and the lockdowns we weren’t sure we would be able to meet all of our requirements.”
Porter says that annually members of the community will help wrap the donated gifts that Pigeon Lake Santa’s Elves gives out. In addition to restrictions on social gatherings and distancing regulations as COVID-19 numbers grew throughout the province, Porter says the Elves faced the challenge of securing a location to grow their donation campaign as community halls across Alberta were mandated to be closed.
After contacting her MLA Porter was granted access to the local community hall after being told that Santa’s Elves would be considered an essential service.
Community members were able to donate their time to wrap by appointment only to follow COVID regulations, extending the amount of time needed to wrap by a day as the amount of people that could wrap at one time was limited. Gift wrappers were also required to sanitize and wear masks as well as properly social distance.
“This could not take place if it was not for the incredible members of our community,” says Porter. “We received beautiful hand knit clothing and toys from a couple of incredibly talented women in our region. We had cash donations from so many.”
When the hampers were completed there were gifts wrapped for 170 children and 78 food hampers. Volunteers delivered the gifts and hampers before Christmas.
Porter says despite all the challenges that COVID posed, the community came together through their donations, and hard volunteer work to ensure that this holiday season was not put on pause by the pandemic.