There’s just over a week left before Christmas, and though this time of year is magical for some, it can be difficult for others.
However, for more than 40 families in Durham who weren’t expecting much this year, Christmas will be a holiday they won’t soon forget.
It’s all thanks to Holiday Helpers, whose workshop is operating on overdrive in Pickering, Ont.
Volunteers have spent days wrapping presents and creating packages for dozens of families in Durham.
“It’s a big relief. It kind of alleviates a little bit of stress that was lingering,” said Michelle Thompson, a recipient of assistance from Holiday Helpers.
Thompson wasn’t sure what kind of Christmas her family was going to have this year.
She just had a baby six weeks ago so receiving gifts and a tree will make this holiday a memorable one.
“We arranged to spend time with family so we knew that was there regardless. Spending time with family, having a good dinner, but we weren’t too sure we were going to have a lot of the presents and a lot of the extra things that the children really enjoy. We’re really grateful,” said Thompson.
This is the first year the charity is spreading Christmas cheer in Durham.
For the past 22 years, its focus has been on the Greater Toronto Area.
“Things we take for granted, they can’t take for granted. I remember last year delivering gifts to one individual, and a five-year-old kid ran up to me and said: ‘Thank you. Thank you. Thanks to you, we can have a Christmas,’” said Romayne Toban, a volunteer with Holiday Helpers.
Toban has been volunteering with the organization for three years.
“Christmas is a time of giving and being around loved ones, and thanks to Holiday Helpers and the Family Worship Centre, we’re going to give back to the community and help others,” said Toban.
“The best part of this is seeing everyone come together and wanting to help give back at a time that is so stressful and everybody’s so busy,” said Holiday Helpers co-founder Sarah Rutka.
Meanwhile, Thompson was overwhelmed by the amount of boxes loaded into her van.
“It’s really great to have all these gifts and to be able to see my children getting the things they actually want. Toys can be pretty expensive and things can get overpriced so this is just great; they’ll be so happy,” said Thompson.
This year, Holiday Helpers is helping 41 families in Durham and over 600 total. Next year, the charity is hoping to give over 50 families in the area a magical Christmas.
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