Local charities offer cheer and guardian angels
By Becky Somerville
While the holidays for some is a matter of wrestle-for-the-Tickle Me Elmo, other London families have more serious battles to fight. Local charities, however, are playing a substantial role in bringing cheer and the real meaning of the festive season to the less fortunate.
From colouring books to bicycles, the Angel Tree at Argyle Mall raises up to 11,000 gifts for the needy each year. The Tree is adorned with various angels which contain the age and clothing size of thousands of boys and girls in the London area. An angel is taken from the tree to purchase a gift according to these specifications.
Connie Couse, organizer of the Angel Tree charity, said the amount spent on the gift is entirely up to the giver and all donations are in support of the Salvation Army's Christmas Hamper program.
This year Western had its very own Angel Tree organized by Saugeen-Maitland Hall residence Soph Jaime Notman, in which each floor was encouraged to raise as much money as possible in order to supply 30 less fortunate families with food vouchers, toys and clothing.
Fellow organizer Sara Martel said this charity drive was extremely successful, receiving support from 30 out of 36 floors. Donations will go towards families suggested by Life Spin, a social services group in London.
With donations from the Christmas Cheer kettles, the Salvation Army fed over 400 people turkey dinner last year. Striving to do the same this year, the familiar bell-ringers are out in full force with visions of raising at least $130,000 dancing in their heads.
Major Clarke, community and family services director at the Salvation Army, said families in need who register with the Salvation Army are provided with one major gift, stocking stuffers and clothing in addition to a turkey or a gift certificate for food.
The Christmas Hamper program began yesterday and runs until Dec. 23. Other donations such as food and gifts came from various organizations such as churches and the Angel Tree. Last year the Christmas Hamper alone helped out 7,028 families in the London area.
The Goodwill is another organization which relies heavily on contributions particularly during the holiday season. Offerings of saleable items such as clothing, furniture and toys are valuable commodities for the financially struggling holiday shopper, said director of donated goods at Goodwill Kelly Kurki. The Goodwill uses these proceeds to employ people with disabilities and supplies on-the-job training necessary for other retail jobs.