The opening of the MyCityCare Shop of Wonders also comes with a call out to the community looking for donations to make the campaign a success.
The program is one of the handful happening around the region to help brighten Christmas for those needing a boost during the holiday season. Executive Director Jennifer Tribble says last year the organization provided gifts for 1,500 kids in the Lethbridge area, a number she says continues to grow year over year, with the number expected to balloon to around 2,000 in 2023.
Tribble says with grocery and utility increases prices increasing, they are seeing families who have previously supported the program needing access. The 10 to 14-year-old age range is a large group they see a need for during the holidays.
“We do get a lot of babies, and that is a tricky one because it is one of the ones we have a hard time getting donations for, between them and teens, but we end up with a lot of babies as well.”
Along with needing the community’s generosity through gifts or monetary donations to purchase items for gifts, Tribble says that volunteers are essential to the program’s success.
“We need volunteers to come in and host the families that are coming through so they have a personalized shopping experience,” Tribble says. “Volunteers will basically dress up as elves and help them shop for gifts, and then we also have a wrapping station that is also run by volunteers so they get gift wrapped and ready to go for them to take out.”
She adds that the idea is to make the experience one that shows dignity, compassion and warmth, which the shop itself tries to convey. Tribble says she has seen people walk in and start to cry because of their feelings from seeing the decorations, including dozens of Christmas trees set up, and the care they receive.
“I used to be in marketing, so I used to actually do the big displays in the mall and in The Bay and the other department stores. So I know the effect of your surroundings and your environments and how those things come into play in elevating people’s experience,” Tribble says. “When you go into a place and it is warm and inviting, you have a different sense about it.”
More information about the Shop of Wonders and how to donate or volunteer can be found on the MyCityCare website.