It's really hard to think about Christmas when it's not snowing.

C'mon snow!!!

We live in a neighbourhood with a great mix of shut-ins, people like ourselves who are empty-nesters, and young families with swings in the front yard and trikes in the driveways.

I love going for walks and seeing the handcut paper snowflakes in the windows of the kids' houses.  And then there is the sedate light-decor of the empty nester folks. When we downsized a few years ago, we passed on boxes of Christmas decorations and nativity sets and advent calendars to the kids; we're down to a slender assortment of decorations.  So, it's nice to see the hand-made enthusiasm of the little kids on our street

And all over Barrie, there's the hustle and bustle of Christmas, mixed with a generous dollop of thinking about others.

The Salvation Army kettles are everywhere and in these cashless days, it's great to see people find actual cash to add to the coffers. Children's Aid, the Women's & Children's Centre, United Way and, of course, Christmas Cheer are all in high gear with gifting programs.

Companies are calling to offer Christmas turkeys to be given away through charitable programs. Businesses (like car dealership Schmidt and Shaw) are calling to set themselves up as a drop box location for toys and food. And, the date is creeping up quickly. The Barrie Colts are hosting drop boxes for toys and food at all entrances to their Saturday night game.

We at Christmas Cheer are revelling in our new, full time, permanent home at 364 St Vincent St. We've been donated the space through the generosity of Peter Moore and PBM Realty. Peter's Moore Packaging boxboard manufacturers has been making our hamper boxes for 30 years, at no cost, and to now turn around and give us a permanent home... well, it's giving us a huge lift!

And so we're busy, unpacking our storage unit for the last time because now we'll keep our supplies in our own place. We're installing phone lines, thanks to a donation from PWHR Solutions. We're taking delivery of a donated stove and fridge and someone dropped off kitchen cupboards to we can actually set up a permanent canteen area to provide snacks for those working all day at our facility.

While many many charities are caring for people in special need, we have just taken applications for over 5000 people and are now marshalling resources to make sure every hamper is full of food and every bag full of toys. It's a monumental effort and it's done without a single paid staff person... the entire event is the miracle of the community giving to its own.

You'll see up to the minute coverage of events like Sunday's Parkview Singers concert, which drew unprecedented numbers and raised nearly $1500 for Christmas Cheer. Just check out www.christmascheerbarrie.com.

Other charities also have their arms extended in the hopes the community will come through. Salvation Army, The Grocery Assistance Program and Elizabeth Fry, the Busby Centre, Out of the Cold, the Food Bank, Nanna's Closet, the OSPCA... on and on and on.

Some years ago, we at Christmas Cheer spent a few nights developing our mission statement. We wanted to keep it clear and inclusive and I think it fits every single charity that's bustling around right now...

... because everyone deserves to have a Christmas!

Enough said.

Thanks so much to those who set aside their personal schedules to make generosities happen.

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