Christmas Eve a busy time for charities, gift-givers in Manitoba

Last minute preparations for Christmas are underway across the province, and for some that means preparing hampers, while for others it’s gifts.  

At the Indigenous-led community organization of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, volunteers are busy packing hundreds of meals as an emergency response for those impacted by COVID-19 this year.

“When the children see us pull up you just see them wave their hands, [they say] ‘Ma Mawi, Ma Mawi is here,” said Joanne Stranger, a team lead with the organization.  

“It’s so heartwarming.”

The hampers are vital for families, seniors and people living alone through the pandemic, Stranger says. 

But it’s difficult to find enough people to do all the work.

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata has been giving out hampers since March when COVID-19 first started. These days they’re giving out 2,500 hampers a week. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

“We have volunteers, but not enough. So, sometimes we are delivering until 9 at night just to feed our families in need” said Stranger.

The community organization delivers approximately 2,500 hampers a week right now and has been delivering food since March.

Many of those who use the hamper service have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

The organization is able to provide those in need with fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins six days a week thanks to food donations.

Stranger asks anyone interested in helping with packing or delivering hampers to contact Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata.

Last-minute gifts

Normally toy store parking lots would be buzzing on Christmas Eve, but with consumers limited to curb-side pick ups, even last-minute shoppers have to do a little more planning than last year.

The afternoon of Christmas Eve, Nick Au sat in his car at in theToys R’ Us parking lot to pick up his one and only Christmas gift. 

“This is basically it, we don’t do the gift thing. [It’s] for our nephew who is just nine years old. Kids have to get their toys,” Au said.

A number of cars were parked outside Toys R’ Us in Winnipeg on Christmas Eve for curbside pickup. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Carol Fenner also had to pick up a gift for a child on her list. 

While she won’t be able to make the multiple family dinners she traditionally attends, Fenner is happy to make this Christmas special for her kids.  

“We are doing some FaceTime with family and are still going to make a big dinner tomorrow with the kids. They are still going to have a good Christmas and they are going to open their presents,” Fenner said.

“Santa is still coming.”

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