Group providing gifts for needy families

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A new charity campaign is trying to make Christmas merry for families in need.

The My City Cares group, based out of Victory Church in Okotoks, is organizing a Shop of Wonders this year to help families provide gifts for the children this Christmas.

“We invite low-income families or families going through struggles this Christmas season to come along to our Shop of Wonders and pick out gifts for their family,” said organizer Meghan Harvey.

She said the Shop of Wonders will be like Santa’s Workshop, where parents can pick out items to give their children and have them gift-wrapped on-site, so there’s nothing to worry about on Christmas morning.

The idea came from the Victory Church in Lethbridge, which ran a similar campaign last year. More than 300 children were helped and there were nearly 1,500 donations of toys and gifts, she said.

It’s the first time the Shop of Wonders will appear in Okotoks, and Harvey said they’ve already had some families sign up. They’re encouraging more people to put in their names, or recommend families to the program.

“We know some families are choosing between groceries or gifts for their kids, and we don’t think that should be an issue,” said Harvey. “We just want to provide a Christmas experience that heightens dignity and provides hope at a time where people can feel hopeless.”

The gifts are donated by the community, so there is no charge for families who visit the Shop of Wonders, she said.

My City Cares is looking for partners in the business community to help provide gifts for those who need them, she said. There are also drop-off boxes for items at Alberta Dance Academy, Save-On-Foods, Premier Health, 94 Take the Cake, and Elks Hall, she said.

Shop of Wonders will also be accepting food donations to put together hampers for families who need them, she said.

“It’s just anything that would make Christmas a little bit easier for family,” said Harvey.

The Shop of Wonders will be open on Dec. 17, and boxes will be picked up from around the community Dec. 10 and 11, she said. Families who wish to get their gifts from the shop do not need to provide proof of income, but will be asked for identification at the door at the event, she said.

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