Santa’s Toy Box program to start early
FCSS times launch to coincide with Christmas Light Up
Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 06:00 am
Christmas is seven weeks away, but for the staff and volunteers of Santa’s Toy Box it is just around the corner.
The program is run by Barrhead and District FCSS and its purpose is to provide parents who otherwise couldn’t afford to give their child a toy, the opportunity to give them something to unwrap come Christmas morning.
“We’re getting off to an early start this year because we use Christmas Light Up as our kick-off date, ” said Barrhead and District FCSS Community and Development co-ordinator Ros Rud.
This year the Main Street Merchant’s Association has pegged Christmas Light Up for Nov. 3.
To qualify for the program, people must fill out an application form at FCSS to prove that they are in need.
“We use the LICOs (low income cut-offs) criteria by looking at what they receive on their income tax statement,” Rudd said, adding this is the same criteria both the federal and provincial government uses to determine social-program eligibility.
LICOs are income thresholds below which a family will likely devote a larger share of its income on food, shelter and clothing.
To fill out the application, in addition to their last income tax form, they will also need a copy of their Alberta Health card, which lists the number of dependents in a family and something to prove they are an area resident.
Rudd said over the last number of years, they have received inquires from families from larger municipalities such as Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, St. Albert and even Edmonton.
“We also ask that parents include a list of some of the things their children like so we can make sure whatever they receive is something they will enjoy,” she said.
They also ask people to consider adults when they are donating items.
“When we started out about 30 years ago it was just for children, but then we started thinking that the parents could use a bit of a boost. Just something that could brighten up a mom or dad’s day,” she said.
Although it is a separate program, but it is one that people often apply for at the same time, as Santa’s Toy Box, is the Food Bank’s Christmas hamper program.
The hampers include everything a person needs to make a holiday meal starting with a turkey or a ham. Each hamper varies slightly because with the exception of the ham or turkey, they are made with items that the food bank has on hand.
Rudd noted food bank staff tries to include other items like a box of Stove Top Stuffing, cranberry sauce and other items such as crackers and cookies to make their meal special.
Recipients of a Christmas hampers must also meet FCSS’ LICOs standard.
FCSS will start taking applications for both programs starting Nov. 1.
For those people who would like to donate to Santa’s Toy box, people can drop of their items at FCSS during normal business hours, or look for one of the many Santa’s Toy donation boxes in many Barrhead businesses starting at Christmas Light Up.
Another way people can donate is by adopting a family.
“People can come in to FCSS and we will give them the general information about a family, how many children there are, their ages along with a list of their likes and people provide them with a special Christmas,” she said, adding often community groups and churches organize and adopt multiple families.
“The generosity of the people in this community never ceases to amaze me. The program never seems to have any shortages in donations or volunteers. I know I have already heard from people who say they want to adopt a family,” Rudd said.
For more information about either Santa’s Toy Box or the Christmas hamper program contact Rudd at 780-674-3341.