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Choose how to give back to your community this christmas season

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It feels good to give. Especially when your gift makes the difference between a Merry Christmas, and a Christmas without, which would be the case for some families if it wasn’t for the efforts of local volunteer organizations and charities that strive to spread some cheer.
Whether a family or individual is working but a little tight for resources during the holidays, or are experiencing an extended period of need, there are four different groups taking collections that you can contribute to. Each organization works within their own area, ensuring that as many families as possible are helped.
Christmas Cheer Board
Everyone goes through a hard time at some point in life. The Christmas Cheer Board (CCB) is there to help those that don’t qualify for assistance – some of which return to donate themselves once their own situation improves.
“The purpose is to primarily help out working families that are in a lower-income bracket,” said CCB Co-Coordinator Carli Ulmann. “There are exceptions made sometimes because of extenuating circumstances, such as a sick family member, family crisis, unexpected winter expenses, and so forth.
“People are approved for hampers on the basis of their need, which is decided based on income and circumstances.”
The CCB is looking for volunteers to help put the hampers together during the week of Dec. 11-15. If you are interested in helping, you can reach Crystal Duchesne at 204·734·9369.
Hampers will be ready to be picked up or delivered Dec. 15.
If you do not have the time to volunteer but would still like to help, donations are being accepted in marked boxes throughout the town of Swan River.
“People can donate either by giving monetary donations, non-perishable food donations, knitted/crocheted items, gift cards, Swan Valley Stampeders game tickets, new or like-new toys and books, toiletries, and new Christmas decorations,” said Ulmann. “Hampers not only cover the staples needed for a Christmas meal, but include enough food for approximately three weeks of meals.
“The CCB is here to help people that are less fortunate and need a little extra help this year to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable Christmas.”
Swan Valley Food Bank
Benefiting people from as many as 22 different communities within 100 kilometres of Swan River, the Swan Valley Food Bank (SVFB) aims to provide nutritious food for families registered to receive Christmas hampers so that children can have what they need to be as healthy as possible.
“For Christmas, we’re looking for canned fruit, canned evaporated milk, toothbrushes, and we’re trying to put together bags of candies for (children),” said SVFB co-chair Jake Warkentin, highlighting the need for non-perishables. “And, canned vegetables are always something that we can use.”
Donations of food can be made by coming to the SVFB Thursdays between 12 - 2 p.m.. Donations can also be made at either the Swan Valley Consumer’s Co-op, or Extra Foods, where drop-off locations can be found.
Registration has closed for food hamper applicants, but Warkentin added that with 230 hampers that need to be filled, there is a great need for items to fulfill the demand.
For further information, contact Jake Warkentin at 204·731·0907.
Toys 4 U
Swan Valley Communities That Care (SVCTC) Toys 4 U is working to ensure that children from birth to age 18 who are in need receive a fun gift for Christmas.
“You can donate new toys, gift certificates, or donations of money to purchase toys and giftwrap,” said SVCTC Co-ordinator Beverley Polon, who noted that toy purchases are made within the Valley.
New toys can be donated at various locations within Swan River, including Red Apple, Work and Casual World, Chicken Chef, Pizza Place, Qwik Stop, Timberland Inn, Y Not Johnny’s, the Swan River library, the Dec. 15 and 20 Swan Valley Junior A Stampeders games, and the ESRSS where Polon’s office is located.
Volunteers are also needed to wrap the toys once they are collected. Contact Polon by Dec. 15th at 204·734·4518, 204·734·8138, or swanvalleyctc@gmail.com if you’d like to help. The donation deadline is Dec. 21.
“We have been very fortunate to have great community support during the past Christmas seasons,” said Polon. “Due to this and the ever growing need, we’re seeking your assistance to bring the Christmas spirit to those who need it once again.”

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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