By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Midstream Support Society volunteers are busy this week getting their annual Santa Store ready to open Wednesday. The store, located in the Community Corner Drop In on 101 Street, provides parents who are struggling to find a way to provide their children with Christmas gifts a way to do so.
Midstream Support Society board member Linda Krauskopf said there are certain days of the week where parents registered for the program can come into the Santa Store and get two presents for their children, gifts valued at a total of approximately $40.
“They get a major gift and a minor gift and they get to pick them out for the child,” Krauskopf said. “They know what their children need and they’ll get what they need.”
Krauskopf said there is no charge to the parent. All gifts and cash for gifts are donated by the public, either brought directly to the Santa Store or collected in bins set up around town by the Knights of Columbus and those collected through RV City’s toy hauler program.
But while the Santa Store will have plenty of toys on the shelf when it opens later this week, Krauskopf and her fellow society members are concerned just how well they will be able to meet this year’s demands in the long term.
Despite donation locations set up throughout town, there never seems to be quite enough gifts for the children the store seeks to provide for, particularly teenagers.
“A lot of people buy for younger kids because it’s a lot easier to buy a cute little Barbie doll,” Krauskopf said, adding there is also a shortage of gifts for children under the age of 10. “Two years ago we had 146 kids. Last year we had 177 kids, and this year we figure at least 250. If it’s more than 250, we’re in big trouble.”
She attributes the increase in need to the downturn in the economy. Many of the Santa Store’s customers are single working parents who have seen their wages frozen, their hours cut, and the overtime of a few years ago eliminated altogether.
Krauskopf is quick to point out the people who use the Santa Store are not people who are down and out but people who are working hard at making ends meet, finding little left in the budget after basic necessities to be able to provide gifts for their children.
“I think Morinville doesn’t realize how many children are actually out there that are in need,” she said, adding people are more familiar with the needs of the food bank. “The people that we’re looking after don’t use the food bank, don’t go through the food bank, because they’re working parents and they don’t need the food bank. It’s Christmas that does them in. They’re covering everything else. Christmas time is the rough time.”
It is a segment of society that Krauskopf and her fellow midstream Support Society members and volunteers are passionate about helping.
“I want to help the person that’s helping themselves, instead of them thinking, ‘I’m working my butt off and I can’t make ends meet and I can’t give my kids a good Christmas,’” she said. “Let’s give those people that little extra to show we are really impressed that you are trying to do something – you are trying to work your way and support yourselves. We understand you have this little hill [to go over].”
The Santa Store works in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus’ Christmas Hamper program. Any gifts left over from the store are given to the Knights of Columbus to be used in their program.
Krauskopf said people looking to help or looking to be helped can visit the Santa Store or call her at 780-939-5035 for more information on specific needs and requirements.