Patricia Thurston said demand is higher than ever for the Shuswap Family Centre’s 2021 Family-to-Family Christmas Gift Campaign for Children and Youth. (Zachary Roman/Salmon Arm Observer)

Patricia Thurston said demand is higher than ever for the Shuswap Family Centre’s 2021 Family-to-Family Christmas Gift Campaign for Children and Youth. (Zachary Roman/Salmon Arm Observer)

‘More challenges than ever’: Gifts wanted for Shuswap families in need after tough year

Shuswap Family Centre’s annual Family-to-Family Christmas Gift Campaign sees record demand

It’s the time of year when you might see Christmas trees popping up around the Shuswap.

Some of those trees may include special tags, with each tag represening a child or youth in need of a little help to make their holiday season special.

The Shuswap Family Centre launched its annual Family-to-Family Christmas Gift Campaign for Children and Youth on Nov. 12.

Each year, said the centre’s executive director Patricia Thurston, the campaign provides gifts to children and youth between the ages of zero and 19 whose families may be experiencing hardship.

“Our community is seeing a lot more challenges than it’s ever seen before,” said Thurston. “The number of people needing food, gas cards, accommodation… is increasing, we’re seeing people that we’ve never seen.”

That extra need extends to the Christmas gift campaign and Thurston said already there are more tags than ever before in the initiative’s 30-plus year history.

It even extends to the family centre itself — the centre needs financial donations. While Thurston is proud the centre has remained open to everyone throughout the pandemic, extra expenses have been necessary to do so.

“Small change means big change,” said Thurston, adding that any donations are greatly appreciated.

People are encouraged to pick up a tree tag, buy a gift suited for the child/youth written on it, and bring it back to the Christmas tree. If you’re in need, it’s not too late to request a tag for any child(ren) in your life. Anyone who participates in the program will remain anonymous.

The trees will be located at the Mall at Piccadilly, Centenoka Park Mall, SASCU branch locations, Canadian Tire and the Shuswap Family Centre. Thurston noted gifts will be collected from all tree locations and brought to the Shuswap Family Centre, where parents in need will choose a gift for their child(ren). This is why the family centre asks that gifts remain unwrapped, though wrapping supplies being donated along with gifts are greatly appreciated. If a gift requires batteries, it is asked that batteries be provided also.

Thurston thanked volunteers Rita Greggor and Kory Unruh for their help getting tags out, as well as all the volunteers and gift-givers who are involved or will be involved this year. She also gave a shout out to the Salmon Arm Canadian Tire, which she said donates at least $5,000 of toys every year.

Also launching Nov. 12 was the annual Adopt-a-Family for the Season program. Thurston said businesses and individuals interested in making a family’s holiday season a “special one to remember” should contact the family centre for more information. Adopted families in the program will remain anonymous.

People can donate financially by making cheques payable to the Shuswap Family Resource and Referral Society, donating cash, or by clicking this link.

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Do you have something else we should report on? Email: zachary.roman@saobserver.net
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