The LRCA will be giving out Christmas cards containing gift cards for their Christmas Cheer program this year. (Submitted photos)

The LRCA will be giving out Christmas cards containing gift cards for their Christmas Cheer program this year. (Submitted photos)

LRCA Christmas Cheer program pivots to gift cards due to COVID-19

Registration for the Christmas Cheer program will be open November 10 - December 3

Every year the LRCA brings the community together to spread a little Christmas cheer to families in need. However, COVID-19 has upended the normal delivery of Christmas hampers under the Christmas Cheer program.

There will be no big Christmas gift sort at Aggie Hall this year. Instead, the LRCA is asking the community to give cash donations for families in need. That cash will then be turned into gift cards for groceries and gifts to make sure that local families still have a merry Christmas.

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“We’re not collecting food, and we’re not collecting toys, because of the COVID risk and all the numbers of people involved. We just can’t do it safely,” LRCA office manager, Barb Champagne said.

The gift cards will be distributed to registered families –– and will come inside of a nice Christmas card from the LRCA. Families will have discretion over the gifts that they purchase with their gift cards. The grocery gift cards will be for the 49th Parallel, and gift cards for other items will be for Walmart. Walmart was chosen because of the wide selection of items available at Walmart locations.

“We tried to balance between the local and the multi-national,” LRCA executive director Marsh Stevens said.

Registration will be open from November 10 to December 3. Families can register at the LRCA on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. The early cutoff will allow the parents time to do shopping for their kids.

Cheer fund boundaries are West side of Highway 1 to Haslam Creek Road to the North, to Jones Road on the east side of the highway, and Old Chemainus Road to Lagoon Bridge and Stocking Creek to the south. Families within the boundary are welcome to register.

Folks who wish to sponsor families this year can do so through the LRCA as well.

“The only difference is that they’re going to give us the cash or cheques, and we’ll put them toward the designated family,” Champagne said.

The LRCA is targeting 150 families this year, and is in need of donations to help deliver Christmas to those families.

There are options for folks who want to donate to the Christmas Cheer program. Donations can be made online at lrca.ca/donate with the Christmas Cheer designation. Cheques can be dropped off at the LRCA at 630 2nd Avenue in Ladysmith.

Any excess donations will be rolled over to fund the Christmas Cheer program next year.