By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – One could argue not even Santa’s elves have the work ethic of volunteers who work to make the annual Midstream Support Society’s Santa Store a success. As the store is laying the groundwork necessary for the store to open for a 14th year of assisting local families in need to provide one major and one minor gift for their children at Christmas time, volunteers have already begun hitting the pavement looking for assistance with the cause.
Volunteer Lisa Piche said she and fellow volunteers are currently canvasing local businesses looking for donations for an annual auction that raises funds for the Santa Store. Piche, who is coordinating the auction to be held at Coach’s Corner Nov. 19, said no donation is too small and that the support of Morinville businesses and residents is greatly needed and appreciated. She understands businesses are being approached often right now but hopes business owners and residents will consider donating to the cause.
“This time of year is hard because everyone is looking for stuff,” Piche acknowledged, noting many charities and local groups are currently out canvassing for donations. “I like this [cause] because it helps local families.”
Piche said the generosity of residents and businesses in assisting the Midstream Support Society and their Santa Store does far more than put presents under the trees of Morinville families who would otherwise have none. Additional monies left over after presents are bought are used to host an annual Christmas party for the families as well as fund Midstream projects throughout the year. Those projects include assisting individuals and families in emergency situations as well as providing funding for a lunch program for Morinville students in need.
The volunteer said it is important to understand those who use the Santa Store are looking for a little help and not a hand out. Many lower income working families have enough money to cover the necessities of life but find little left over for gifts, particularly in the winter months.
“Christmas time is so expensive with gas bills and your electric bills,” Piche said, adding everything seems to be more expensive at that time of year. “It’s an expensive time of year for everybody and we help people that might be a one-income family or a lower income family.”
Piche said the gifts distributed through the Santa Store are far from high end electronic toys. Each family is allowed one major and one minor gift for each child, items valued at roughly $50 for the pair. “If we had that kind of money, absolutely I’d like to give out Game Boys to every kid on that list,” she said. “People don’t [always] remember that they might not get a gift at their birthday or that they don’t get brand new clothes at the beginning of the school year,” Piche said. “I’m fortunate I can buy my kids new clothes. A lot of kids don’t get those things, so if we can buy them new gifts for Christmas it helps.”
Although the gifts to be bought for Morinville children and teens in need are yet to be determined, Piche said items donated for Nov. 19’s auction can be just about anything and everything. “We’ve had dog food donated, oats for horses,” she said, noting hockey tickets are always popular items that draw some solid bids. “It can be gift certificates to businesses in town.”
Businesses or residents wishing to help by donating items to the auction can do so by contacting Lisa Piche at 780-939-4810. Arrangements will be made for volunteers to pick up the donation from the donor.