There are over 90 donor boxes for food and toys all over Barrie. There are coin boxes in coffee shops and TD banks. The website accepts online donations. The postal box, #161, Barrie, L4M 4T2 is waiting for envelopes full of cheques. Book clubs are buying children's books to donate. Company Christmas parties are focussing on giving rather than receiving.

Christmas Cheer is on a roll.

Those of us who volunteer for this remarkable organization hope that our 33rd year will be able to achieve what our previous years have done... provide a week's supply of food, a full Christmas dinner plus toys and gifts for all the kids for those who have registered for a Christmas Cheer hamper this year.

Barrie has so many worthwhile charities and certainly while I was president of Christmas Cheer, I had the chance to get to know the Salvation Army, Out of the Cold, the Grocery Assistance Program and the Food Bank quite well. We all care for people.

I like to think of Christmas Cheer as a by-the-community-for-the-community grassroots program. No paid staff, virtually everything donated or gifted-in-kind, this community has stepped up to the plate for care for people for a long time, over three decades.

For the past two weeks, those volunteers who meet with clients and take applications have been listening to problems like lost jobs, hydro hikes, income that just doesn't stretch to cover anything extra. Christmas is extra. As dozens and dozens of volunteers arrive at our 125 Brock St location (this year's donated space by PBM Realty) they'll be sorting donated food into bins, sorting toys into age group and packing hampers for pickup. That work begins next Wednesday.

So many people come together to make this happen. Whether you're writing a cheque or making an online donation (www.christmascheerbarrie.com) or bringing food or toys to our location, every piece of the puzzle goes towards making Christmas a possibility for nearly 5,000 people in our community.

When the need is this great, the volunteer organization behind it has to be great as well. Each volunteer plays a critical role to achieve this purpose. Our financial goal? $220,000. Time frame? 38 days from November start to Dec 22 distribution. We expect this year to care for 1,900 families, nearly 5,000 people.

Every little bit makes a difference. A few years ago we spent an evening discussing what our mission statement might be... those of us who have been doing this for years. Lots of philosophical reasons were put forth. There was lots of lively discussion. The result?

Because everyone deserves to have a Christmas!

Thanks, Barrie. We know we can count on you!



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