Six local non-profit organizations are kicking off the 13th year of the Christmas Hope campaign in Lethbridge, ensuring everyone needing support over the holiday season can access it.
The campaign is a collaboration between the Lethbridge Food Bank, Interfaith Food Bank, The Salvation Army, Lethbridge Family Services Angel Tree, MyCityCare Shop of Wonders and Volunteer Lethbridge, as they work together to assist roughly 3,500 adults and 6,500 kids over the holidays through providing gifts for kids along with food hampers.
Lethbridge Foodbank Executive Director Mac Nichol says the partnership between the community groups has become a model of sharing resources and information with other municipalities reaching out and asking about the program.
“The partnership we have had over these 13 years has only grown, and really made sure that both we are providing the services we need, but we are supporting each other to ensure everyone in the community has access to the same things and really trying to be equitable about everything we get.”
Nichol says on the food bank side of the program in Lethbridge, they have seen a 48 per cent increase in the number of people accessing either the Lethbridge Foodbank or Interfaith Foodbank between March 2022, when he says they started to notice the increased food inflation, and September 2023.
“When food inflation goes up, the food banks get pinched multiple times. We have to buy more food for more clients, and that food also costs more, and as such, we start eating through our budgets a lot faster than we see to meet the need that we normally had.”
He says they are currently seeing a shortage of Kraft Dinner, but also, around this time, see boxed stuffing as a popular request from their clients. However, Nichol says the food banks will need non-perishable items, including canned vegetables and fruit. The foodbank saw 650 hampers go out during last years holiday season, and says they expect at least 750 in 2023.
Volunteer Lethbridge is working to support these agencies along with the different non-profit services that are providing aid to those needing help over the holidays.
Membership Manager Nicole Bosh says around the city and area, there are a plethora of people with unique skill sets who want to help, and by working with these groups, they can help people find volunteer opportunities that need filling.
“Volunteer work is such a huge impact in our community as well. [throughout] Christmas Hope last year, over 800 volunteers contributed over 6,000 hours, so it has a huge impact on what it means for community members to help other community members here in Lethbridge.”
She adds these roles range anywhere from helping with Christmas wrapping, helping with the Kettle Campaign with the Salvation Army or dropping off deliveries.
“So a wide variety of opportunities coming up in the next little bit,” Bosh says.
Throughout the city, there will be different donation bins set up for the food banks and the various present programs. All the information about the city-wide campaign can be found on the Christmas Hope website.