ESTEVAN - Last Tuesday, the Community Hamper Association was facing a challenge with its Angel Tree program, which provides a toy to hamper recipients with a child or children.
They needed to have about 430 toys this year to meet the needs of all the children on their list. They had received around 40 or 50, according to Char Seeman, who co-chairs the hamper association along with Heather Woodhouse.
None of the toys were for children ages seven to 16. And the final day for the Angel Tree campaign was on Saturday.
So they posted a plea on social media, and the donations started to roll in. Thanks to the support of the community, through toy and cash donations, they’ll be able to meet their commitments.
“The city of Estevan and surrounding areas were very generous. We should have no problems with being able to get enough toys to the kids,” said Seeman.
They didn’t receive as many toys as they normally would, but they did get more cash donations.
With all of the donations they received, it meant they didn’t have a free moment in the final days of the Angel Tree.
She’s not surprised with the response from the community, either.
“Estevan and surrounding areas always come through for us, and I had no doubt in my mind that we would be just fine. They just needed a gentle reminder,” Seeman said with a laugh.
Angel Trees were located at the Estevan Walmart, Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse Casual, Kessel Run Games and Your Toy Store & More. There was also an Angel Tree set up at the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course for a few days last week, including during the Christmas party at Woodlawn’s clubhouse on Saturday.
In an interview with the Mercury last Wednesday to help generate support, Seeman said the deadline for the Toy Store snuck up on everybody because it’s been so nice outside, and people aren’t thinking Christmas. Suddenly, though, there were just a few days remaining in the campaign.
Even after the Dec. 11 deadline, people were still wanting to contribute, and Seeman was encouraging them to make cash donations to support the hamper association, which provides meals to individuals and families at Christmas time.
The association didn’t think they would have funds to provide toques and mittens to the toy recipients, but if they have left over finances, they will be able to purchase the warm fuzzies.
The Angel Tree campaign wrapped up in style Saturday with the annual Fill the Truck Toy Drive with the Estevan RCMP and the Estevan Fire Rescue Service. There were fire vehicles and police vehicles on site for a few hours, and people dropped off toys to fill the vehicles present.
“The fire cruiser was packed. There’s no doubt about it,” said Seeman.
Fire Chief Dale Feser said they not only received enough toys to fill up two command vehicles, which would be about 200 toys, but supporters provided about $500 in cash donations. It would be in line with what they have received in the past.
“I’m very proud to be part of this community that always comes together to support initiatives like this,” said Feser.
The fire department wasn’t finished with their support for the Angel Tree once they dropped off the toys. The Estevan Firefighters Association went out for a shopping spree at toy stores, to ensure there were enough toys for kids of all ages.
The money is raised by the firefighters association, and was not the cash donations that they received on Saturday.
“It’s great to see everybody get into the Christmas spirit. Very joyous interacting with people. A lot of kids came down and toured the fire truck, and it gets everybody into the Christmas spirit,” said Feser.
Toys collected during the Angel Tree campaign were stored, and then set up in the basement of St. Giles’ Anglican Church from Sunday to Tuesday for a toy store. Community Hamper Association committee members used the cash donations for a shopping spree to purchase more toys.
The money was used to purchase toys in age groups where they didn’t have enough. This year, because they wound up with more toys for the older kids, they bought more toys for younger kids than they normally would.
“But for all ages, we have pretty good coverage,” said Seeman.
Hamper recipients with children could drop by and select a toy on Dec. 15 and 16.