Christmas is a time for friends, family, and great memory-making while sharing the joy of the season. But, it can also be a time of great stress for those without the resources to buy gifts for loved ones.
For the eighth year, Lethbridge College ran its Christmas Store in November, providing items donated by faculty and staff for sale to students at low cost, allowing them to purchase gifts without breaking their budgets.
Since its first year in 2000, the store has raised more than $25,000 for the college’s scholarship fund. Monica Ekvall, organizer and instructor in the College and University Prep program, says the store is a great way for employees to rid their homes of unused items and help students have a better Christmas.
“We’ve had so many students who have said they couldn’t have had a Christmas in their family if it wasn’t for the store, and that really touches my heart,” says Ekvall.
“We probably all have things at home that we don’t use anymore that are packed away. So why not recycle and give them another use, particularly for our students, who are the target audience for the Christmas Store.”
Angela Fretts, services co-ordinator for the Lethbridge College Students’ Association, says the SA has received a wealth of positive feedback about the program, which is its own reward.
“It is very rewarding when you see the faces of the families that are picking up the hampers. The adopters put together absolutely wonderful hampers.”
The Christmas Store and Adopt-a-Family program work closely together and are often intertwined during the holiday season.
“If we don’t sell everything at the Christmas Store, we let Adopt-a- Family organize it,” says Ekvall, who enjoys the team environment.
“It was rewarding for me to help students realize that’s the kind of atmosphere we have at Lethbridge College. It’s definitely a community effort; we all work together.”