Formally known as ‘Secret Santa’, Wetaskiwin Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is kicking off a new initiative to helping families have the best holidays possible this year — the Christmas Giving Tree campaign.
The Christmas Giving Trees are full of anonymous tags that are added as families register with FCSS for the campaign. These tags include the age, gender and interests of a child registered. The trees will be distributed to several businesses in Wetaskiwin, where residents can take a look through the tags and choose one if they wish.
With this tag they will go and get a gift, and then drop off the gift and the selected tag to Wetaskiwin FCSS who will make sure it makes it to the right child.
This change allows for people gifting to choose a gift more personalized to the child’s interest and age.
“It’s a little more personal this year,” says Wetaskiwin FCSS Community Development Coordinator, Macki Rumak.
“You get to kind of connect with that individual a little bit as you buy something for them specifically. Plus I think it just makes it extra nice for kids to open a gift on Christmas that was specifically chosen for them.”
Rumak says this is extra nice for the teens registered in the Christmas Giving Tree program this year, as most years the gift donations to FCSS are toys—which Rumak says are fantastic donations, just not necessarily geared towards the older kids.
“The Christmas Giving Tree makes it a little more personal and a little more intentional.”
In addition to each child in the family getting a gift or two for the Christmas Giving Tree campaign, each family registered will get a voucher for one of the local grocery stores in Wetaskiwin with enough money to buy their family an entire Christmas dinner.
“So every family that registers will go home with gifts and a voucher for Christmas dinner.”
Registration for the Christmas Giving Tree has been open for just over two weeks, and this year in addition to applying yourself for your family, you can apply on behalf of a family.
“If you know somebody who could use an extra hand this Christmas you can apply for them. We’ve been getting a good amount of people applying on behalf of friends and family and neighbours, so that’s been encouraging.”
While the supplies for the campaign were collected by Rumak, the Horizon’s Centre in Wetaskiwin stepped up and said that they could construct the trees in their workshop.
“We brought all the lumber to Horizon’s Centre and they built all the trees for us, which was such a huge blessing to us…. They were a huge part of this campaign this year.”
Some of the trees for the Christmas Giving Tree were placed at local businesses this past weekend while others will go out this week and as more family applicants come in.
Wetaskiwin locations with a Christmas Giving Tree include:
• Mickey’s Flowers;
• French’s Jewelry (main store and outlet store);
• Beans Café and Bistro;
• Refresh Wellness Centre;
• Wetaskiwin Family Medical Practice (main office and walk in clinic);
• Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum;
• Birch Terrace Apartments;
• Horizon’s Centre;
• Wetaskiwin Public Library;
• Wetaskiwin Animal Clinic.
Wetaskiwin FCSS have partnered with the local Salvation Army for the Christmas Giving Tree campaign. The Wetaskiwin Salvation Army will be accepting all the monetary donations for the campaign which will cover the cost of the grocery vouchers.
If a tag from a giving tree doesn’t get chosen, Rumak says that Wetaskiwin FCSS has a stockpile of gifts and that they have ensured that every single child registered will receive a present this holiday.
“No one will get forgotten. Everybody will get some Christmas cheer this year.”
Applications for the Christmas Giving Tree can be found at www.wetaskiwinfcss.com.