Children in the community can learn responsibility and decision-making skills while finding the perfect gift for everyone on their list during the annual Gifts of Kindness Kids’ Holiday Store on Dec. 14 at the Chestermere Recreation Centre.
From 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., the young shoppers will be partnered with a Kids’ Holiday Store Elf to help them find a gift, while their family or caregivers wait outside.
“Kids who have pre-registered or are dropping in can pick out a special gift for their families on their shopping list,” said the Manager of Community Support Services, Danielle Fermin.
This year, the city has partnered with the Chestermere Regional Community Association (CRCA) for a holiday fun day.
“We’re collaborating with new community partners, and we’ve outgrown city hall,” Fermin said.
While youth shop, their families are encouraged to stop by the CRCA annual community Christmas Party in the main hall and enjoy hot chocolate provided by Tim Hortons and popcorn from the Real Estate REP’s Group/REMAX Frist.
“Parents can enjoy many of the activities taking place outside the store until the little shoppers have checked everyone off their list. Then the kids, with help from the elves, wrap each gift to keep it a surprise until Christmas,” Fermin said.
The Kids’ Holiday Store is the city’s largest fundraiser for the basic needs program.
“Without the Kids’ Holiday Store, we’re not able to meet our annual campaign goal. It’s also an opportunity for us to promote that awareness that there are local families who are needing support throughout the year, not just during the holidays,” Fermin said.
The funds raised from the purchase of every gift at the Kids’ Holiday Store assist families with purchasing groceries throughout the year, paying for utilities, medications, or emergency situations that are not covered by regional or provincial grants.
“I think one of the things that is really cool about the Kids’ Holiday Store Fundraiser is there is a lot of community pride and community ownership,” Fermin added. “People want to help and give locally.”
For Fermin, a highlight of the Kids’ Holiday Store year after year is seeing the little shoppers have individual time with the volunteer elves to shop for their gifts.
“They get to go through the different aisles and have that independence and decision-making opportunities to decide what their mom or dad really wants for Christmas. Having that meaning behind it and having it as a surprise has been really special,” Fermin said.
Chestermere residents are encouraged to donate new or like-new items that are suitable gifts for adults, children, and youth for the Kids’ Holiday Store at city hall, community operations, or the Chestermere Public Library until Dec. 10.
“We always have a hard time having enough gifts for the adult male or the youth male in the family,” Fermin said.
She added, “It could be activities that bring families together, a craft, board game, puzzle or something interactive. It could be as simple as a new pair of socks.”
Monetary donations to Gifts of Kindness are also accepted at city hall year-round.
To register a child for the Kids’ Holiday Store, please visit Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/kids-holiday-store-fundraiser-chestermere-tickets-78241118291, or for more information please visit the City of Chestermere website at https://chestermere.ca/947/Kids-Holiday-Store-Fundraiser.