Due to rising food prices or otherwise, Woolwich Community Services’ Christmas Goodwill program is seeing a high demand this year.
The program provides families in need in Woolwich and north Wellesley with toys and clothing for kids, along with household items and gift cards for either Foodland or Food Basics and will be collecting donations until December 9.
Although community support services coordinator Tina Reed said that it’s hard to tell if inflation is driving up demand, as of Monday WCS has already seen 160 families sign up for the program compared to the 180 total it supported in both 2020 and 2021.
“I think we’ll have over 200 families this year,” Reed said.
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Families interested in receiving a hamper are asked to contact WCS at 519-669-5139. Hampers will be available for pickup on December 15. Although there are certain income thresholds for qualification depending on the number of people in a household, individual circumstances will be taken into account, said Reed.
“It’s very difficult for people to ask for help at any time of the year. But we like to hope that people will contact us to see if they qualify. Many people think they may not qualify because they’re working, but they might.
“People can call in and we will hear people’s stories to see where they’re at, and see if we can still help them if they’re really tight.”
WCS has provided several different ways for people who want to support the program to do so. This includes “Wish Trees” at Home Hardware Stores in Elmira, Linwood, and St. Jacobs as well as Living Waters Bookstore and the Elmira Canadian Tire.
“Those are trees that people can go in and pick off a wish star – it has a common toy that most kids ask for throughout the years. They can buy that toy and then either bring it back to those locations or bring it back to our agency,” explained Reed.
Popular toys this year include Squishmallows stuffed animals as well as traditional toys such as Barbies, baby dolls, cars and trucks, remote control cars and trucks, and food for kitchenettes.
WCS is also accepting cash donations through their Elmira office or on their website through Canada Helps.
Donors will also have the option to sponsor a family to match their Christmas giving budget. Donors will be informed of the number of people in their sponsored family, what their needs and wants are and clothing sizes and ages. If shopping online, donors are asked to allow enough time for delivery.
The Goodwill program is still seeing strong support from the community this year, Reed said.
“We have a lot of companies and businesses collecting toys for us and we have had many donations come in from the community already.”
Many hockey teams are also providing support, Reed added.
“That gets [kids] started in supporting the community when they’re young, understanding that there are families struggling and that they can help in even just a little way of buying a toy.”