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How to spread that Christmas Cheer

By MARINA SACHT

“I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives,” sings Tracy Chapman. T’is the season of giving and everywhere you look a miracle is taking place.

Whether it’s personal loss or financial difficulties, Christmas can be a depressing time for many. But thanks to volunteers and the community, many people, despite their problems, will be able to celebrate.

Here are some of the programs going on in our community. They can all use a hand if you can help.

The Christmas Cheer Program is the longest running program in Ladysmith. Since 1934, it has helped make Christmas brighter for many in the community. This program is administered through the Ladysmith Resources Centre. You can make a donation or drop off a new or near new toy. It will be distributed with food hampers to needy people in the Ladysmith area, providing them with a Christmas dinner and a few extras they may not otherwise have over the festive season.

The Ladysmith Resources Centre holds funds in trust each year and cash donations are deposited with tax receipts issued if requested. This fund is used exclusively to purchase the food from local merchants that goes into the hampers. Volunteers sort and select gifts for children up to age 16. On the day prior to packing of the hampers, community food donations are either picked up or delivered to the Aggie Hall, where it is sorted into individual or family boxes.

Registration for a hamper goes until December 17, with delivery December 23. For more information, call 250-245-3079 or lrca.bc.ca

How you can help: Tax deductible contributions (cash or cheque) payable to “Christmas Cheer Fund” at the LRCA. Please donate non-perishable foods, new or near new toys, books or games, Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm up to December 18. Or drop off your donation at Ladysmith Insurance Centre at Coronation Mall, Curves, or Ladysmith & District Credit Union.

The Food Bank Needs Your Help

This is a lean time for the Ladysmith Food Bank. There are many people coming to the bank every Tuesday, representing 300 to 350 people. “Some are single, some are parents with one or two children, and some have larger families,” says Caroline Davidson. Did you know that the purchasing power of a monetary donation is three times the value of packaged food gifts? The buyers look for special sales so the money you give goes a long way. “Our neighbourhood families will appreciate all the things you give for a Merry Christmas from the food bank,” says Davidson.

How you can help: Drop off non-perishable food or write a cheque for the Ladysmith Food Bank and give it to the Ladysmith Resources Centre where the food bank is located. You can also donate at a local church or the Food Bank bins at Save On and the 49th Grocery stores.

The Ladysmith Eagle’s auxiliary is collecting toiletries for the food bank at their December 10th meeting.

How you can help: Drop some off under the Christmas tree in the Eagles Lounge.

Kick one in

Richard Hill came up with a plan that makes it easy for restaurant and institutions to contribute to the food bank. While getting his regular food delivery for Yellow Point Lodge, Hill realized that it would be easy to add another case of food to his order and have it earmarked for delivery to the food bank.

Started by him over 10 years ago, the ‘Kick One In’ is a program operated by participating Sysco food service companies for the benefit of local food banks. It allows Sysco customers to have tax deductable food donations delivered to their closest member food banks on the Island. For more information, visitkickonein.org.

At the end of the year, your local food bank will total up all the donations you’ve made over the year, and send you a tax deductible, charitable donation receipt for your records. You can then deduct that amount from your annual food costs, add it to charitable donations and the circle is complete.

How you can help: If you work at a company that orders wholesale food, encourage them to “throw one in.”

Ladysmith Celebration of Light

Skellig

Started by Celtic Rock band Skellig, the Ladysmith Celebration of Light is an annual benefit for the Ladysmith Soup Kitchen and Food Bank. This family-friendly concert will be held on December 18 at the Eagles Hall. Tickets are $7.50 PLUS a cash/food donation.

Admission includes desserts, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Live music will be performed by Skellig, Ryan McMahon, Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys, Terry Boyle, Chopped Liver Orchestree, Chris Andres, David Bitonti, Elf Song and carols by the Celebration Brass Band.

The Ladysmith Celebration of Light fundraiser is run by local townsfolk, chaired by the Rock Christian Fellowship, and sponsored by local businesses, service clubs, individuals and churches. All proceeds go to feeding our community and making it a great place for everyone. To date they have raised over $25,000. Tickets are available at the Ladysmith 49th Parallel Grocery.

Between now and December 31st, Skellig is donating all the profits from their new song “Child Of Grace” to the Ladysmith Soup Kitchen. This project is part of the Celebration of Light Event. It’s only $2, but you can donate more.

How you can help: Take your family to the show and bring a cash or food donation. Download Skellig’s new Christmas song with all proceeds to the Ladysmith Soup Kitchen: https://skellig.bandcamp.com/track/child-of-Grace

Coats for folks

Coats for Folks is now open at 710 First Avenue (the old Employment Navigators building).There you will find good quality, clean coats, sweaters, boots, hats and mitts free to anyone who needs them thanks to the generosity of the community, and the Ladysmith Healthcare.

The store is open 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday from now through February. They have had hundreds of people come in looking for warm, dry clothing for “…babies, boys, girls, teens, women and men,” says Myf Plecas, “and especially men’s and children’s clothing.” After hours and weekend donations can be dropped off at Mr. Poppers Sweet Shoppe at 32 High Street.

How you can help: Donate any of your good quality, warm clothing. Sign up to help operate the store as they are in urgent need of volunteers.

ShoeBox Project

The Shoebox Project in the Ladysmith area provides gift-filled shoeboxes during the holiday season to women living in a shelter. The shoeboxes contain gifts for women valued at about $50. For more information, visit the website www.ShoeBoxProject.com.

How you can help: Make up a box with your friends or at work, and drop it off to Alana Newton at the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce.

Extreme Weather Shelter

Thanks to the initiatives of the LRCA Homeless committee, a shelter is now available during cold weather. “The committee started after losing our friend Dave Alton to exposure,” says Tim Solloway.

The shelter first opened on November 12 for six nights. It is located at Bethel’s tabernacle lower level, and if space is not available will there, it will open at St. John’s Anglican Church as needed.

“All the churches in Ladysmith have been wonderful and have representatives on our committee. Our client base is growing as word gets out,” says Solloway. The shelter provides changes of clothes, warm blankets with mats, a hot meal and breakfast. For now the shelter has what it needs thanks to Doug Routley’s help in getting B.C. Housing funds as well as support from Warmland in Duncan (an amazing place for the homeless and suffering).

How you can help: Volunteer or donate to Ladysmith’s Soup Kitchen and Coats for Folks — the shelter is good for now.

Haircuts for Hugs

On December 8, from 1 pm to 3 pm, Chopstix and High Street Hair with Street Thug Barbers will be offering free haircuts to those in need.

How you can help: Spread the word and spread the cheer.

Imagine if Christmas was just the beginning? Happy year, indeed!

About the author: Angie

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