After 12 consecutive years of partnership, Christmas Hope Campaign has some exciting news. This year our partnership has grown to five agencies: Interfaith Food Bank, Lethbridge Food Bank, Salvation Army, Angel Tree Christmas Campaign and My City Care Shop of Wonders.
For the twelfth consecutive year, Interfaith Food Bank, Lethbridge Food Bank and Salvation Army joined forces to ensure that the less-fortunate members of our community were provided with supplies for a Merry Christmas, this year adding Lethbridge Family Services – Angel Tree and My City Care – Shop of Wonders to the formal Christmas Hope Partnership.
To make the most of resources and reduce duplication of services, our five agencies planned and prepared to serve 2700 adults and 4000 children over the 2018 Holiday Season.
This past Christmas, a total of 1473 households were provided with food hampers complete with Christmas fixings, and more than 3600 children received toy bundles so they might have something special under the tree on Christmas morning. Thanks to the support of the community, 2160 adults and 3665 children (5825 individuals) were assisted this Christmas through the Christmas Hope initiative.
Streamlining registration procedures allowed the collection of agencies to increase the quality of support provided to local families, while also limiting duplication of services, thus maximizing the resources generated from our community. This was particularly helpful for toy distribution agencies, as families received gifts for children from only one agency this year. Projected numbers were based on previous year totals and trends through 2018, while final distribution tallies identify unique individuals served.
Maral Kiani Tari, executive director with Lethbridge Food Bank explains, “the holiday season is one of the busiest times for our organizations. Cold months in combination with the Christmas season can be expensive for our clients; which is why we see an increased demand at our agencies. Many of our families only require our help for November, December and January while they do well on their own the rest of the year.”
“Working in partnership seems to be having the best impact, not only for our donors, but for the families we’re here to help,” says Danielle McIntyre, executive director with Interfaith Food Bank. “When each agency can focus on what they do best, we are really able to stretch our resources, and we are able to provide a more consistent and festive experience for those we serve.”
Organizers are grateful that the community was able to meet the demand for those who requested help this year, however each agency will be required to continue to recruit support throughout 2019 to keep up with on-going support programs for local families. While gifts of food and toys were plentiful this holiday season, organizers note a substantial drop in financial donations, which will be required for each agency to continue providing the same quality and quantity of services to local families in 2019. Donations are accepted by each agency year round, it is never too late to give. “We know the economy is tough, we know that people are struggling because we’re helping a lot of people,” said Maj. Donald Bladen with the Salvation Army Community Church of Lethbridge.
Normally, local charities receive the bulk of their support during the Christmas season, and a surplus in food and funds is required to meet the demands of the New Year. While food stocks have returned to a more manageable state after the holiday rush, they are expected to deplete quickly. To ensure we are able to meet ongoing demands, the community can expect to see each agency continuing to actively recruit donations of food and funds well into the New Year.
Our agencies are committed to moving families past food bank line-ups and emergency relief services. Connecting families in need with other local resources allows food bank access to be a temporary solution to food insecurity while families and individuals can address underlying issues such as under-, or unemployment, marriage failure, addictions, illness or injury. On-going demands placed on food banks and social service agencies have continued, however partnerships and cooperation between these agencies is proving to be a successful measure in providing necessary services.
Christmas Hope agencies would like to express our gratitude to the community for assisting us in ensuring that everyone had a chance to have a Merry Christmas. “The generosity of Lethbridge provided immeasurable hope and happiness for the families we served this year. Hope can be a powerful force – when we hold it like a light within us, anything can happen…magic happens. And it did every day. THANK YOU!” says Michelle Gallucci of Lethbridge Family Services – Angel Tree.
On behalf of our staff, volunteers and the families we serve, we hope you had the happiest of holidays, and we look forward to your on-going support in 2019.
Agency Contact Information:
Lynn Hornberger, Salvation Army