Every year the LRCA brings the community together to spread a little Christmas cheer to families in need.

But COVID-19 has again called for a change in the normal delivery of Christmas hampers under the Christmas Cheer program, and once more there will be no big Christmas gift sort at Aggie Hall.

Instead, the LRCA is asking the community to give cash donations for families in need. That cash will then be turned into gift cards for groceries and gifts to make sure that local families still have a merry Christmas.

LRCA Office Manager Barb Champagne, who has been with the campaign for a decade, said: “We’re not collecting food, and we’re not collecting toys again this year, because of the COVID risk and all the numbers of people involved. We just can’t do it safely.”

Pat MacFarlane is the campaign’s coordinator for a third year. She said any volunteering she has done for the LRCA “was always acknowledged with so much appreciation. I was happy to say yes when asked to take over as the Christmas Cheer coordinator because I knew I had the support of all the volunteers who cheerfully show up to help. When you receive a heartfelt thank you from a recipient, you can’t beat that feeling: That is what makes it all worthwhile.”

Karen Laing, LRCA executive director said the LRCA has been “very fortunate to be able to respond effectively and efficiently during this pandemic to meet the requests for our Christmas Cheer services. It is thanks to the remarkable community support that we can meet our fundraising goals each year at this time.

“I would be remiss if I did not thank the LRCA Office Manager, Barb Champagne, and her team of volunteers for their leadership of the campaign over so many years. We are truly blessed for their dedication to ensure all the citizens of Ladysmith have a warm meal and some Christmas cheer over the holiday season.”

Gift cards will be distributed to registered families –– and will come inside of a nice Christmas card from the LRCA.

Families will have discretion over the gifts that they purchase with their gift cards. The grocery gift cards will be for the 49th Parallel, and gift cards for other items will be for Walmart.

Walmart was chosen because of the wide selection of items available at Walmart locations, striking a balance between the local and the multi-national.

Registration will be open from Nov.16 to Dec. 9. Families can register at the LRCA on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The early cutoff will allow the parents time to do shopping for their kids. Clients can pick up their gift certificates on Dec. 14, 15 and 16.

Cheer fund boundaries are West side of Highway 1 to Haslam Creek Road to the North, to Jones Road on the east side of the highway, and Old Chemainus Road to Lagoon Bridge and Stocking Creek to the south. Families within the boundary are welcome to register.

Those who wish to sponsor families this year can also do so through the LRCA.

“The only difference is that they’re going to give us the cash or cheques, and we’ll put them toward the designated family,” Champagne said.

The LRCA has a target of 150 families to serve this year.

There are options for folks who want to donate to the Christmas Cheer program. Donations can be made online at http://www.lrca.ca/donate/page with the Christmas Cheer designation. Cheques can be dropped off at the LRCA at 630 2nd Avenue in Ladysmith.



Pat MacFarlane, LRCA Christmas Cheer campaign coordinator (left) and Barb Champagne, LRCA office manager (right) are already busy preparing to make a merry Christmas for Ladysmith families in need.

COVERAGE IN THE CHRONICLE:  https://www.ladysmithchronicle.com/local-news/lrca-to-host-modified-christmas-cheer-program/

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