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Macleod’s Secret Santa in need of help this year

Family Centre director Susan Simpson

Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre director Susan Simpson is hopeful people will support the 2012 Secret Santa program

Secret Santa has a heavier load to carry this year in Fort Macleod.
The number of families registered for the program has increased to 49 in 2012, from 41 last year.
“That’s pretty significant,” said Susan Simpson of Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre. “And we usually get a few more as we get closer to Christmas.”
The Secret Santa programs delivers gifts to every member of a low-income family to ensure Christmas morning dawns bright.
In addition to the rise in the number of families registering for the Secret Santa program, Kids First is facing another challenge.
“We really haven’t had that many calls either,” Simpson said of people willing to adopt a family.
Simpson said the economy is the biggest driver behind the increasing number of families seeking help.
“Some of the families that are on the list, very recently one or both of the parents have lost their jobs,” Simpson explained. “That would be the biggest change I’ve seen. There are names on that list that weren’t there before because there was sufficient income, and now there has been job loss.”
An area of particular concern for Kids First is ensuring families with teenagers will have a bright Christmas.
“It’s really a challenge because most people or groups want to adopt the cute little kids who are easier to buy for,” Simpson explained.
Kids First provides ages and gender of the family members to the sponsor. The shopping is left up to the sponsor.
If people are stumped on what gifts to buy, Kids First recommends choosing gift cards, particularly for those hard-to-buy-for teenagers.
For people who do not want to sponsor a family but still wish to help, Kids First has drop-boxes placed around town where people can leave unwrapped gifts for the Secret Santa program.
Drop-boxes are at The Macleod Gazette, ATB Financial, Chinook Credit Union, Family and Community Support Services, Fort Macleod Health Centre’s cafe, the library, and W.A. Day, G.R. Davis and F.P. Walshe schools.
Kids First will also accept cash donations.
Families can register for the Secret Santa program through the schools or an agency such as Family and Community Support Services or Mental Health.
People who know a family who needs help are also encouraged to register them with Kids First at 403-553-5354.
The program has a deadline for donations of Friday, Dec. 7.
Kids First staff and its volunteers are optimistic Secret Santa can deliver this year to all the needy families in Fort Macleod.
For example, Trinity United Church has challenged members of its congregation to bring one gift apiece for the Secret Santa program.
“Every year at this time I start feeling very warm toward Fort Macleod because we do come through,” Simpson said.

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