By ALAN SHACKLETON
Community Centre 55’s Share A Christmas Program enters its final stages for 2022 and is issuing a call out to local residents for support as it works to help close to 1,000 local families in need this holiday season.
“The response has been incredible so far this year from the community,” Community Centre 55’s Executive Director Reza Khoshdel told Beach Metro Community News on the weekend.
“The demand has also really increased this year and our numbers are very high (of people needing help).”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Share A Christmas Program has moved from delivering hampers full of food and other holiday treats directly to families, and instead provides them with grocery store gift cards in advance of Christmas Day.
Khoshdel said the Community Centre will be purchasing approximately $150,000 worth of those gift card for distribution through the Share A Christmas Program.
“That’s for food and it really helps people and they like them since they can tailor them to their needs,” he said.
Community Centre 55 is also collecting donations of new and unwrapped toys as part of Share A Christmas.
Donations of toys can be dropped off at Community Centre 55, 97 Main St., during business hours up until Dec. 19.
Khoshdel said the two things most needed from residents over the coming days is continued monetary donations (which help with the grocery store cards and also for gifts for older children and teens who are too old for many of the toys that get donated), and volunteer support.
“We can use volunteer help on Dec. 19 to sort toys and on Dec. 20 to help deliver,” he said.
Those wishing to volunteer can do so on either the evening of Monday, Dec. 19, or during the day on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
On Dec. 19, volunteers are needed from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help pack and sort toys. Those wanting to help are asked to show up, but children under the age of 15 should not come to this event.
Also, volunteers of all ages will be needed on Dec. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help deliver wrapped toys.
There are also specific Adopt A Family and Adopt A Senior aspects to the Share A Christmas Program in which businesses or individuals can help cover all of the holiday needs of the family or senior they “adopt”.
For more information on volunteering for or making a donation to Share A Christmas, please contact Community Centre 55 at www.centre55.com or call 416-691-1113.