By Garrett Simmons
Sunny South News
Around the world, Santa Claus represents the joy of giving.
Young children, without the financial resources and the means to buy gifts, don’t often get to experience how good it feels to pick out and then wrap a gift for a loved one.
Thankfully, Family and Community Support Services has teamed up with the Town of Nobleford to make southern Alberta children aged 10 and under ‘Little Santas’ for the holidays.
The Little Santas: Presents for Parents night on Friday, Dec. 15 from 5-7 p.m., will give youngsters the opportunity to pick out a special gift for their caregivers this festive season.
“Everything is donated from members in the community, and the little kids will get to come and pick out an item they are going to give to their caregivers and then we’ll have some youth volunteers there to help them wrap those items,” said Trinity Walker, Youth Development Co-ordinator for FCSS.
Hot chocolate, cookies and a photo booth will help accentuate the community and shopping experience for local families, who will also be able to experience Nobleford’s Christmas in the Park event that same evening.
Hayrides will take people from the Little Santas event at the Community Centre to Centennial Park, where families can also watch the lighting of the town Christmas tree.
Joseph Hutter, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Nobleford, is excited about the collaboration. “We are so excited to add The Little Santas event to this year’s Christmas in the Park,” he said. “The event has grown significantly in the past few years, and this addition will improve the experience for the families that attend. We couldn’t be more thankful for the tremendous programs and services FCSS provides, as well as their willingness to become involved in the Town’s community events.”
The Little Santas event is seeking community donations to make the night a success, as Walker is hoping children will have the option of selecting new and gently used items such as books, handbags, jewelry, small household tools, sporting goods or self-care supplies.
“We’re looking for small items that can be wrapped and carried away by kids.”
Nobleford’s Do Drew Jr. members will operate the event, as the volunteers between the ages of 11-14 will be on hand to help with the gift selection and wrapping.
“We hope the young volunteers make some valuable connections with the kids in the community, and their parents, as well as step up into a leadership role,” said Walker. “They will be running the show with FCSS staff’s help and guidance.”
She added that Do Crew Jr. members will walk away from the experience with a sense of empowerment that comes from hosting an important event, along with some holiday spirit, knowing they helped a child pick out a meaningful gift.
Little Santas also aims to build empathy in the young holiday shoppers, many of whom have likely never had an opportunity to “buy” a gift for loved ones.
“I hope they get excited about giving,” said Walker. “When you give a gift, you have that feeling of joy inside.”
The free event will also feature FCSS booths and information for families, according to Kaitlynn Weaver, Outreach Services Supervisor for FCSS, who added that she hopes to make Little Santas an annual event.
“This is the first time we are trying something like this, so we’re hoping to get some feedback for what we can do next year.”
To make the evening a success, donations are needed. Those looking to drop off items can call or text Walker at 403-394-8101 for more information, or head to the Nobleford FCSS office on Tuesdays from 3-5 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; the Coalhurst FCSS office on Mondays between 3:30-5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.-noon; or the Picture Butte FCSS office on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
For more information on the Little Santas event, call or text Walker at 403-394-8101.