Christmas for Kids is wrapping up for another season and numbers are down over last year, but on average for other years.
“We served 535 children this year, which is down from 570 last year,” Phil Baxter of the Amherst Lions Club said. “It’s still a healthy number.”
Baxter said the program started taking referrals earlier and ended the program earlier than other years to give members of the Lions Club and community volunteers time to put the gift bags together before going out to families across Cumberland County, with the exception of Springhill that has its own Toys for Tots program.
“We’re not sure if the earlier start and ending was a factor but it’s something we had to do because it was too rushed between the ending of referrals and the time when the gift bags went out,” Baxter said.
Baxter said it’s important for gift bag recipients to know they need to pick them up between Dec. 9 and 13 at the former Bluenotes location in the Amherst Centre mall and those who picked angels from the various angel trees must bring the gifts back, unwrapped, to the Christmas for Kids centre before Friday.
Baxter and his wife, Barbara, co-ordinate the program that got its start 26 years ago when a group of community volunteers, led by Jean Miller, took over the effort from the then social services department.
When Miller retired, and later moved home to Ontario, the Lions Club stepped in when it appeared the program could disappear. This is the fifth year the Lions have run the program.