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Kicking off the season of giving

Tina Reed, coordinator for community support at the WCS, with one of the wish trees in the township. The trees are decorated with dozens of Christmas “wishes” that those looking to donate can select as part of the Christmas Goodwill program. [FAISAL ALI / THE OBSERVER]

Christmas, it’s fair to say, can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s a chance to spend time with friends and family. For others, it’s the spiritual solemnity of the occasion that most motivates. And for others still, it’s Santa and Rudolph and presents and eggnog they look forward to most.

Regardless of how you choose to spend the holidays, though, there are themes such as community and goodwill that are universal.

Living up to the spirit of the season, Woolwich Community Services (WCS) is once again asking for donations of toys and gifts to the organization’s Christmas Goodwill program.

“Christmas Goodwill is our agency’s way to help the community, people that are of low-income families, to have Christmas,” explains Tina Reed, coordinator of community support at WCS.

The presents and toys collected are wrapped by volunteers, and then used to fill the Christmas hampers given out by WCS over the holiday season. Recipients of the Christmas Goodwill program get a hamper with their choice of chicken, turkey or ham, assorted foodstuffs and supplies collected from the Kiwanis-led food drive earlier this month, and a gift card for a local grocery store.

“And then the kids give wish lists of toys that they want,” said Reed. “We have sponsors that will buy some toys, and then we kind of add a little bit more to it through the donations of the wish trees, and people that just bring in donations.”

Donors can certainly bring in their choice of Christmas gifts to WCS, says Reed, but those looking for gift ideas can pick a “wish” off any of the wish trees in the township. The trees, located at WCS on 5 Memorial Ave., and Home Hardware stores in Elmira, St. Jacobs and Linwood, are decorated with dozens Christmas gift wishes. Donors can remove a wish from the tree and look to fill it by providing the single gift idea, ranging from sports equipment to clothing to popular toys

“They can just drop off gifts at our agency, between 9 and 5. Or they can get a start of any of the wish trees, and take the star and it has specific items on the star, just in case they don’t know what to shop for,” explained Reed.

“Or they can sponsor a family. So they can call in and get a family,” she added.

The recipient families are kept anonymous, with sponsors getting assigned a family number and a wish list to fill.

Once the toys are collected, WCS will be seeking volunteers to help wrap the presents and fill hampers on December 11 and 12.

“So we have volunteers that come and wrap everything,” said Reed. “We just put the child’s sex, so male or female, and their age, and then the parents can take [the gifts] home and put their name on the tag. But everything is wrapped … by all our many volunteers.

“So if anybody’s interested in volunteering during that week, they can call our offices and volunteer to wrap or to fill our hamper boxes of food.”

Those interested in volunteering, sponsoring a family or accessing any of WCS services can call the centre at 519-669-5139. Gift donations must be dropped off at the office, located on 5 Memorial Ave., before December 9, so they can be ready to go by the December 13.

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