AMHERST, N.S. – It has gotten much busier at Amherst Christmas for Kids headquarters.
After a very slow start that organizers really can’t explain, the number of calls for referrals has dramatically increased over the last two weeks.
“It was very slow during the first week after we opened for the season, but once the story appeared in the media things picked up dramatically,” Barbara Baxter of the Amherst Lions Club told the Amherst News on Monday. “We were sort of wondering what was going on and why we weren’t getting the calls we usually do, but now it’s pretty normal.”
Christmas for Kids aims to ensure every child in Cumberland County wakes up to a gift under the tree on Dec. 25. The program covers the entire county, with the exception of Springhill that has the Toys for Tots program.
Baxter said the number of referrals has risen to approximately 450 as it enters the final week and expectations are it will meet last year’s total of 521 children who received presents in 2017.
“There are still several days to go, but I think we’re going to make it,” she said.
The Christmas for Kids referral line at 902-667-1949 will close at 4 p.m. on Friday and the calls will go out to parents to come pick up their children’s presents beginning early next week. The office, located in the Amherst Centre Mall, closes for the season on Dec. 14.
This is the fifth year the Amherst Lions Club has coordinated the program after taking over from Jean Miller and her group of volunteers. Miller moved to Ontario several years ago to be closer to her children. Many of the volunteers who worked with Miller still work with the program.
Lion Phil Baxter said the community support has again been tremendous with individuals, groups, businesses and organizations picking up cards from the angel trees, bringing toys into the Christmas for Kids Centre and/or making financial contributions.
The Amherst Toyota Christmas Toy Drive will again be supporting the program. It has been collecting toys at the dealership on Lord Amherst Drive as well as at various Christmas events in both Amherst and Sackville, N.B.
The Toyota Tacoma truck will be at the Springhill parade on Thursday night, at Sackville’s Moonlight Madness on Friday and at the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers home game on Saturday at the Amherst Stadium.
Phil Baxter said Christmas for Kids appreciates this support and would also like to thank the people who responded to the death of an infant recently with donations to the program.
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.
Receipts for monetary donations will be issued and the centre is also looking for donations of knitted items.
Twitter: @ADNdarrellChristmas for Kids campaign rebounding from slow start