Number of referrals over 600
Christmas for Kids saw a big jump in referrals this year.
Christmas for Kids saw a big jump in referrals this year. From a normal year of 550 to 575 referrals, this year's total exceeded 600.
AMHERST – The number of families relying on Christmas for Kids this year grew to more than 600.
Program co-ordinator Jean Miller said the number is usually between 550 and 575, but this year it climbed to 605.
“There’s no single reason we can put our finger on, but it’s a sign of the economy,” Miller said. “We had a number of people fall off the list this year, but there were a lot of new families that replaced them.”
Christmas for Kids, which marked its 20th anniversary this year, strives to make sure every child in Cumberland County has a present under the tree on Christmas morning. The program relys on donations of toys and cash to fill the wishes received at the program office in late November and early December.
Miller said people continued to be generous again this year, picking gift wishes off several angel trees located around the county, while a number of groups and individuals made monetary donations.
She said the program received a huge boost from the family of Teresa and Terry MacDonald of Pugwash. They donated a large quantity of toys from tours of their home to Amherst Toyota, which in turn provided them to the Christmas for Kids program.
The toys were donated this year in memory of Adrian MacDonald, who was killed in a traffic collision near Pugwash last January.
“We are so grateful of the MacDonald family because without them it might have been difficult to meet the demand,” said Miller. “We stayed open an extra day so we could process the toys and make sure they got out to families. We are so fortunate in the level of support we receive every year from the community. This was a huge boost to us.”
As the program winds down for another year, Miller said, she’s hoping to find another co-ordinator. She’s nearing 80 years of age and said she needs to make sure the program can continue with some new blood.
As well, she’s hoping to find some permanent storage. The organization has been very fortunate to be able to store supplies above the stage at Heartz Hall, but she said it causes a lot of difficulty for volunteers, many of whom are seniors, to climb the stairs to retrieve the items and take them to the Amherst Centre Mall, where for the second year the organization had its headquarters.
“Ideally, we could find something on the first floor that’s easy to access,” Miller said. “We’re not looking for a lot of room, just enough room to store a few boxes.”