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Christmas for Kids sees increase in referrals

Amherst Lion Phil Baxter (left) and Lloyd Fraser sort gift bags at the Amherst Christmas for Kids centre in the Amherst Centre mall. The program saw an increase of more than 50 children over last year with 615 being served this year.
Amherst Lion Phil Baxter (left) and Lloyd Fraser sort gift bags at the Amherst Christmas for Kids centre in the Amherst Centre mall. The program saw an increase of more than 50 children over last year with 615 being served this year.

AMHERST, N.S. – It has been another busy year for Christmas for Kids.

The Christmas for Kids application line concluded for 2016 last Friday and program co-ordinator Phil Baxter of the Amherst Lions Club said there was a significant jump in the number of children needing help this year.

The Christmas for Kids application line concluded for 2016 last Friday and program co-ordinator Phil Baxter of the Amherst Lions Club said there was a significant jump in the number of children needing help this year.

The program, that strives to make sure every child has a present under the tree Christmas morning, will look after 615 children this year – a jump from 562 last year.

“We’re really not surprised that it increased,” said Baxter, who is in his second year as co-ordinator of the program after the club took over the program from longtime volunteer Jean Miller. “My guess was we would hit 600 this year, but it exceeded even what I thought we’d have.”

The program last served more than 600 children in 2013 when it served 601. It averages approximately 550 children.

Baxter said there are a lot of people out there struggling to make ends meet. When you add the stress of trying to buy Christmas gifts it can sometimes be overwhelming. That’s where Christmas for Kids comes in.

Each of the referrals was put on a Christmas angel. These angels were placed on trees throughout Cumberland County. People would pick the angel and go purchase a gift for the child, valued at $40.

The gifts were then returned to the Christmas for Kids centre at the Amherst Centre mall unwrapped where they were combined with other toys that were either donated or purchased. Each of the bags includes knitted mittens or hats as well as some treats and other small items.

Parents are called to collect the bags and the centre is scheduled to close on Friday.

“The program went very well this year,” Baxter said. “We had a tremendous response from the community. Places like the Pharmasave and the Community Credit Union were phenomenal in the number of angels that were collected. We had a lot of corporate donations and individual donations of money and toys to the program.”

The MacDonald family of Pugwash again joined with Amherst Toyota to provide a large collection of toys while another significant donation came from Oxford Frozen Foods.

He also thanked the mall for providing a great location for the centre.

Baxter also credited the 20 or so volunteers who spent hours working at the centre, taking referrals, sorting toys and stuffing the gift bags for pick up. He said roughly half the volunteer were Lions while many of those volunteers who worked with Jean Miller continue to support the program.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

 

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