Sicamous families in need will be helped by Santa and his elves, namely Krista Hyde and her family, for the second year in a row.
Hyde launched Project Santa Sicamous in 2021 after noticing the larger hamper drive, Project Elf Okanagan, only operated through the valley up to Salmon Arm and didn’t help many people in communities further north.
Project Santa Sicamous operates in much the same way though, with families either applying themselves or being referred by local school faculty who know which families could use the help. Hyde created a separate Facebook group for the Sicamous operation which currently has 72 members, some being families who need help and some being sponsors.
The project is completely anonymous. If members are in the group already and want to nominate themselves, Hyde facilitates private messages and posts the family’s information, including ages and clothing sizes of the members, so sponsors can either adopt the family and take care of their entire wish list or comment and donate specific things to each family.
The wrapped gifts are either dropped off at the local schools or hand delivered by sponsors.
Sponsors can also remain anonymous. Hyde understands Sicamous is a small town, and stresses that any way anyone can help out is greatly appreciated.
Hyde ran Project Santa Sicamous last year with help from her family and a friend, wrapping and distributing everything donated. The first Project Santa Sicamous helped seven families and 22 children. She is continuing the operation from her home and is excited to help even more families this year.
“I came from a broken family, so I always had two Christmases, but half of them were not magical,” said Hyde. “Now I have two kids and my kids are very fortunate, but I explain to them that it’s not normal, most people do struggle.
“I wanted to make sure that no kid in our community feels like that.”
Hyde’s children see the wish lists families send in and help to organize the gifts.
A lot of families with children especially like to get involved and donate. Hyde has seen families from Alberta who vacation in Sicamous sponsor families that live here.
Hyde loves to see the generosity and the community coming together. One woman donated $100 Askew’s gift cards for each family last year, and Moose Mulligan’s put together food baskets for each family as well, with things like prime rib and vegetables inside.
Hyde also makes sure the adults aren’t left out. Although parents rarely share what they want and focus on their kids, Hyde picks out gifts she thinks any parent would like.
“It’s hard on kids too when they know that their parents are struggling,” said Hyde.
Local businesses also stepped up for the parents and caregivers last year, with a barber shop donating free haircuts and Steel Horse Studio offering free pedicures.
Hyde stressed she couldn’t make this happen without the support of the community.
“We’re so generous. We’re a small enough town, too, that if we all pitch in a little bit, we can make sure that no one goes empty-handed.”