Given this week’s weather, it is indeed beginning to look a lot like Christmas and, judging from the response to local fundraising efforts, it seems Woolwich residents are getting into the spirit of the season.
For many of us, Christmas is a collection of childhood memories augmented with idyllic pictures of Victorian scenes or images straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Or perhaps the vision runs to the mood evoked by such classics as It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Carol.
For those so blessed, Christmas was and is a carefree time.
This is not the case for everyone in our community. For some, the season means extra hardship as an already bare cupboard suddenly seems particularly barren. Then there’s the stress of dealing with the disappointed looks in their children’s eyes.
This harsh reality does not jibe with our sense of what Christmas should be. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to do something to change reality in our little corner of the world. While response to local drives has been good, it’s not too late to make a difference by dropping off a toy or clothing item at, making a contribution to the food bank or sponsoring a child on the Tree of Angels, one of the projects of the Salvation Army.
That organization is one of the most iconic symbols of holiday giving, noted for its kettle campaign that raises millions to fund services to some 1.8 million Canadians each year.
By Wednesday, a week away from Christmas Day, the group had raised $11.4 million towards its $21-million goal. Though the kettle campaign is national in scope, all money is used in the community in which it was raised to support programs for people in need. Salvation Army services include shelter for the homeless, rehabilitation for those with addiction, food banks and meal programs and other practical support for individuals and families.
Locally, Woolwich Community Services has put together its hampers for those feeling the pinch at Christmas. They include food, toys and clothing donated by individuals, businesses and community groups. The agency plans to make the holidays a little merrier for some 150 to 155 families, up slightly from the 149 served last year.
In addition to collecting for those in need, WCS has also been soliciting donations for its own building project, funding to support its plans for a new home in Elmira. The “Sometimes …” campaign met with strong support from the community, which recognizes the vital role the agency plays in the townships. Woolwich and Wellesley have relatively few of the services available in the region’s cities, with WCS often taking up the slack since 1974.
Through the likes of its information centre, employment services, youth programs, family violence prevention initiatives and the more visible food bank and Christmas hampers – not to mention support for the Kids and I program at the Birdland Plaza in Elmira and the St. Jacobs Family Support Centre, among others – WCS provided services to some 6,000 people last year, or about one-in-six residents of the townships.
With its capital campaign, the agency will be able to move into a larger facility under which WCS can consolidate its services, including its thrift store operation.
Donations to the Christmas goodwill program assist those residents in need of a helping hand this Christmas. Donations to the building campaign help ensure WCS continues to be there for local residents for many more Christmases to come.