AMHERST – Last year was a very busy year for Amherst’s Christmas for Kids campaign.
The number children served by the program co-ordinated by the Amherst Lions Club climbed last year to more than 600 while the number of dinners provided through Christmas Cheer also increased.
It’s a trend organizers don’t anticipate ending anytime soon.
“We expect it will be another very busy year for the program,” Lion Phil Baxter said. “We saw a big jump last year and we don’t see any reason why that will change. We expect to exceed 600 children again this year. The program normally averages about 550 children, but it has slowly been growing.”
Christmas for Kids provided gifts for 615 children in 2016 – a jump from 562 in 2015. It also took referrals for 541 food boxes, including 392 in Amherst and 149 in Cumberland County.
This is the Amherst Lions Club’s third year co-ordinating the program since taking over from Jean Miller and her group of volunteers. It operated the 2014 program will Miller before taking over in 2015.
Springhill has its own Christmas programs.
Christmas for Kids phone line at 902-667-1949 will be open again on Monday, Nov. 13 and will operate Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through November and Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in December until Dec. 8 when referrals will stop being taken.
Parents can pick up gifts for their children from Dec. 11 to 15 when the program will close for another year.
Once again, people can also make grocery box requests via the Christmas for Kids line, although that organization does not handle the food or food donations.
Angel trees will be up in various locations around Cumberland County next week including at Dayle’s Grand Market, Scotiabank branches in Oxford and Pugwash, the Pugwash Co-op, Dairy Queen, Archway Insurance, Amherst Pharmasave, Community Credit Union, the Artisans Market in the Amherst Centre mall, the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre and at the Christmas for Kids headquarters in Amherst Centre.
The value of angel gifts is $40 and volunteers will add items to each gift bag, including toys, chocolates and other items.
Financial contributions can be made at the Christmas for Kids office or by mail to Christmas for Kids, c/o Phil Baxter, 1925 Highway 6, Truemanville, N.S. B4H 3Y2.
Baxter said the program gets lots of support from the community while the headquarters is donated by the mall management.