Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board looking for help this holiday season

Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board is looking for help this holiday season and there are several ways that people can help out.

The charity estimates it will need to distribute about 17,000 hampers to Winnipeggers in need over the holidays, which is why it needs both donations and volunteers.

Susan Gill, the Cheer Board’s donations coordinator, said the organization needs toy donations for specific age groups, including two to three-year-old boys and older kids between the ages of 10 and 14.

Gill recommended that anyone with children in the 10 to 14 age range, should take their kids shopping and see what they like.

“We don’t know necessarily what they are into these times, so that is really important,” she said.

She said the Cheer Board is also really focusing on monetary donations this year.

“We are more than happy to do the shopping for you,” she said.

Another way that people can help is by volunteering.

Debra Halligan, the Cheer Board’s volunteer coordinator, said they need volunteer drivers to deliver the hampers.

Halligan explained volunteer drivers sign up to take three to five hampers to the applicants’ houses, which only takes a few hours.

“It’s just so nice to see happy people, so excited to get a hamper,” Halligan said.

TAKING PART IN THE FEED-A-FAMILY PROGRAM

One Christmas Cheer Board initiative that people can take part in is the Feed–A-Family program.

Through this program, organizations, businesses, churches, and individuals can sponsor a family, create a hamper, and deliver it to them.

When a sponsor registers for the program, they get information on the family so they know what to include.

“The sponsors love it,” said Pat McBeth, coordinator of the Feed-a-Family Program.

“They get an opportunity to deliver directly to the family that they purchased for and they get to see the smiles from the family.”

McBeth noted that sponsors can add extra items to the hampers that the Cheer Board may not have.

Anyone interested can register for the program online.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Gill said that the community’s response has been great so far this year.

She said community members appreciate the fact that the Cheer Board donations go directly to Winnipeggers that need help.

“We’re all in our crucial times with COVID, so our need is even greater,” she said.

“We love the fact that Winnipeggers support us so well.”

LOSS OF KAI MADSEN

This year’s holiday season marks the first one since the death of Kai Madsen, who spent more than five decades working with the charitable organization.

Gill said it’s sad and that he is missed.

“But for us, I think now, it kind of gave us more of a push,” she said.

“We can’t let this fade away. We’ve got to keep helping. That’s what he would’ve wanted.”

– With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace.

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