Christmas for Kids begins 20th season on Tuesday

Darrell Cole
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Program makes sure children have a present under the tree Christmas morning

More than 10,000 children have enjoyed a special Christmas thanks to a charitable organization that’s celebrating its 20th year.

Lloyd Fraser helps Jean Miller put up the Christmas for Kids sign in the program's centre in the Amherst Centre Mall. The 2013 program, its 20th, begins Tuesday.

AMHERST – More than 10,000 children have enjoyed a special Christmas thanks to a charitable organization that’s celebrating its 20th year.

Christmas for Kids will launch its 20th campaign beginning Tuesday, collecting toys and other items so every child in Cumberland County will wake up Christmas morning with a present under the tree.

“No one wants to see any child go without at Christmas, that’s been our goal from the very beginning,” Jean Miller said. “We don’t do Christmas, but we help parents with Christmas.”

The Christmas for Kids request line opens Tuesday at 667-1949. Volunteers will accept requests for both Christmas for Kids and the Christmas Cheer program each Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Last year we served 550 children, which was down a bit from 576 the year before. It generally stays in the 550 to 575 range. We have children who drop off the list each year, but there are always more children being added,” said Miller, who is in her 20th year as program convenor.

Angel trees will again be at nine Cumberland County locations including the Christmas for Kids centre in the Amherst Centre Mall, the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, the Amherst Dairy Queen on Robert Angus Drive, Archway Insurance on Victoria Street in Amherst, Scotiabank branches in Oxford and Pugwash, the Pugwash Co-op, the Amherst Pharamsave and the Amherst Credit Union.

Pharmasave, on the corner of Robert Angus Drive and Church Street, will also give a 15 per cent discount on purchases of toys as angel gifts upon presentation of the angel tree card.

Miller said the value of angel gifts is up to $40, which centre staff compliment with other merchandise they have purchased or have had donated including hygiene items like toothbrushes and tooth paste, mittens, scarves, toques, slippers and other items.

The final day for requests is Dec. 6 and the program is available to children ages 15 and under from Cumberland County (except Springhill, which has its own program).

Monetary donations can be dropped off at the centre, or mailed to treasurer Joan Fowler at 116 Victoria St. West, Amherst, B4H 1C8.

A tax receipt will be issued for monetary donations.

Miller is also hoping she’ll be able to find someone to take over for her when she retires. She said many of the program’s volunteers are getting older and she’s afraid the program could disappear if some younger volunteers don’t come on board.

“I’ll be 80 at my birthday and it’s getting harder each year to do this job,” she said. “We need some new people to continue the program.”

Volunteers have run the program since the old social services program approached the churches in 1994 to over Christmas for Kids.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Christmas for Kids, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, Amherst Dairy Queen on Robert Angus Drive Archway Insurance Scotiabank Amherst Credit Union

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County, Victoria Street Oxford

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