As we head into a weekend full of sale prices and get caught up in the madness, even just a little, let’s keep our eyes on a real prize: a holiday season where every child gets to unwrap the magic of Christmas. No parent out there wants to ask for help in making Christmas happen for their little ones but in too many circumstances, moms and dads are trying their best and money just doesn’t stretch enough for rent, bills, and food, let alone buying holiday treats and gifts to wrap. For those of you fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of those killer Black Friday deals, there couldn’t be a better time to buy a few toys to help make this season bright for others. The movement of doing social good after all the good shoppers have done for the economy has been dubbed “Giving Tuesday”, and I for one LOVE IT. Here in Saskatoon, the Secret Santa Foundation founded by the late great Denny Carr, a beloved member of the Saskatoon media, is celebrating 35 years of gifting happy Christmases to families. I got the chance to chat with Executive Director, Nicole Semko about the impact the program makes and how, whether in giving or receiving, people can get involved.
First, let’s do the math because 35 years is an impressive span. Every year, the program chooses 800 families, that’s approximately 2000 kids, and 35 years means a grand total of 100 000 kids helped by Secret Santa. One hundred thousand kids! Nicole, who’s in her eighth year with the program, explained that beyond toys, each family also receives a food hamper that is made to nourish the family not just for Christmas dinner, but for a whole week. The Salvation Army, she said, facilitates the flow of money to programs citywide, and it’s with funds from them, the Caroling FireFighters, and both private and big sponsor donations that food is purchased, which means each identical hamper is thoughtfully created with both non-perishable and fresh foods.
Families needing a hand over the holidays and who’d like to register for the Secret Santa program can contact our local Salvation Army at 306-986-3781 before December 14 (hamper pickup is on the 19th).
And for those of you who can help, toys and books are the ask: new, unwrapped, and for any age under 12. This is where your Black Friday deals can shine! There are drop-off points all over Saskatoon which can be found here on their website and hopefully this year will rival last whereby Secret Santa collected and purchased over 10,000 toys and stocking stuffers and over 50,000 pounds of food.
Thanks to Executive Director, Nicole Semko for talking with me about this awesome program; more than ever, I look forward to picking out a few toys to gift. (Yes, I’m braving Black Friday with a baby int tow!) Let me know if you end up picking something up to gift a child via Secret Santa— I’d love to know you’re on board, too!