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Yorkton Pay It Forward group heads Christmas Squad program

Group saw an influx of families in need this year.
Organizer said the group received about 100 applications this year as opposed to 50 in past years.

YORKTON – Local Facebook group, Pay It Forward Yorkton, celebrates the tenth year of their Christmas Squad program.

"This year is our ten year anniversary – we have more families than ever at this point in time," said Shelly Ross, Administrator for and Creator of the Pay It Forward Yorkton group.

The group saw an influx of families in need this year, likely do to the higher prices of groceries among other things.

"Incredible volume this year — we might have served 50 families in the past — we have probably about 100 applications right now," said Ross, adding, "you can definitely look at the economy and see where things are going — rents are up, cost of living is up, groceries are up — everything is up and there's so little that so many of these people have trickle down to pay for a Christmas."

"We have pretty actively matched most of them with sponsors in a very short period of time — the program is pretty well known and we still have a few that we have to match — but in general things are getting covered," said Ross.

"The way the program works is that we request families that are needing assistance to contact us via e-mail with a description of why they need access to the program and then we match them with a sponsor to provide them with a Christmas meal hamper for their family and a family gift."

"A very important part of our program is the sponsor is responsible for shopping for the family and dropping off the hamper to the family — the reason for that is it's pretty important to feel the other side of the program — so you can go out and spend this money and that's a great thing but when you're thanked by that family it can be emotional –  it can be a moment," said Ross.

"It's a really nice experience for families with kids as well – the experience of giving as much as receiving."

Though the group acts charitably, Ross said they are not an active charity.

"This is a group of people – we don't take cash from anyone, so how this works and how it remains legal is why the families and the businesses [that take part] shop for the family."

"We don't do cash donations, we do donations to each individual family, so Pay It Forward and Christmas Squad truly is just a third party connecting people," said Ross.

"Every little bit helps," said Ross, adding, "it takes a lot of people to do this and a lot of families and they like to know they've been a part of something."

For more information or to take part in the group's happenings, visit the Pay It Forward Yorkton group on Facebook.