Citizens' generosity can make season brighter for those
Christmas is just over a week away and for many families, that means a host of Christmas presents and Christmas goodies.
But for citizens in less fortunate circumstances, Christmas might not be quite so festive.
An assortment of local organizations are doing their best to brighten the holiday for those who find themselves in a difficult financial situation. They're aided, as always, by the efforts of numerous local businesses and groups, as well as individuals.
But their efforts are being tested by the fact that the demand for the community's help continues to grow.
Last year, for the fifth straight year, the Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank and the local branch of the Salvation Army joined forces to help provide food hampers for needy Lethbridge residents. The combined effort assisted 2,012 households accounting for 4,431 individuals (2,847 adults and 1,584 children) during the holiday season. Another 1,370 children received toy bundles.
This year, the three agencies expect to jointly serve 2,200 households and about 4,500 individuals.
Lethbridge Family Services is also seeing increased demand for its Angel Tree campaign, which provides gifts for children in need in Lethbridge and outlying areas. A typical year would see the campaign assist about 1,200 youngsters, but this year the number of requests was at 1,400 and climbing. As of mid-week, the agency was still in need of gifts for about 250 children or youths, particularly in the 13-18 age group.
Other campaigns have been conducting food or toy drives, too, as well as collecting winter clothing for those in need. And people have contributed generously, including cash donations. But as much as citizens dig deeper to help the less fortunate in their communities, the need seems to keep growing.
Food Banks Canada pointed out earlier this fall that, according to the HungerCount 2012 study, a record number of Canadians are turning to food banks to help feed themselves and their families. The study showed that in a typical month, food banks across Canada provide food to 882,000 people, including 339,000 children (38 of the total). Eleven per cent of the total, or 93,000 people, were making use of a food bank for the first time. Twenty-one per cent of those helped were living on an old age or disability pension, and 20 per cent had income from current or recent employment.
"It is shocking that, in a country as prosperous as Canada, hundreds of thousands of children rely on food banks to have enough to eat each month," Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, said in a news release this fall.
Yes, Canada is a prosperous country, but many Canadians are not prosperous. Many citizens struggle to make ends meet throughout the year, and when Christmas rolls around, they aren't in a position to provide their families with the extras that most people enjoy during the festive season.
Fortunately, our communities are filled with people who have generous hearts and are willing to share so others can experience some of the joys of Christmas.
Comment on this editorial online at www.lethbridgeherald.com/