Kashton Klammer and Zyenna Zinger show off some of the gifts that have been collected in the Giving Tent in Blackfalds to help make a better Christmas for the less fortunate. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily the tent is open at 113 Sunridge Ave. for people to collect a free present to give another. (Photo contributed)

Kashton Klammer and Zyenna Zinger show off some of the gifts that have been collected in the Giving Tent in Blackfalds to help make a better Christmas for the less fortunate. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily the tent is open at 113 Sunridge Ave. for people to collect a free present to give another. (Photo contributed)

Blackfalds family’s doling out free Christmas cheer

Family says free Christmas gift project more popular than ever

A quiet street in Blackfalds has become an epicentre of Christmas spirit.

It all started several years ago when six-year-old Kashton Klammer wanted to help others have a better Christmas. He donned a Santa suit and delivered gifts to the less fortunate in Red Deer.

But last year, unable to deliver gifts and good tidings in person because of the pandemic, the Klammer family set up their own gift donation bazaar in front of their Blackfalds home at 113 Sundridge Avenue.

What started out as a modest effort to put a few toys, clothes and other useful gift ideas for those in need quickly caught on. One table soon became three and Janice Klammer, son Kashton and his grandmother Karen Cleland were as busy as Santa’s elves accepting, sorting, washing and displaying donations.

This year, their gift-giving project has grown even bigger, fed by a wave of community support.

“We have so much stuff we want to make sure it gets out. We’re up and running and way bigger than last year. We even have pet supplies this year.”

On Saturday and into Sunday, she loaded every box, bin and storage space in her front yard tent. A steady stream of people soon started coming by.

“I was almost out of stuff by the end of Sunday,” she said.

People began donating in February and Klammer was able to stock up herself while in Hinton this summer, where she found a thrift store with big day sales that allowed her to load up on baby clothing and other items at prices that could not be beat.

Getting ready has meant her washing machine has had a workout. At one point, she figured she did 60 loads of washing in a little over a week.

So much stuff had been coming in, Janice, who runs a day home with her mother, started putting her tables out in late October.

The response from neighbours and other Blackfalds residents has been encouraging.

“Everybody’s enthusiastic about it. Everybody likes it.”

Even Safe Harbour Society in Red Deer have come by to pick up coats, boots and other warm clothing for their clients.

The Klammer Christmas campaign has not been without setbacks. The odd Grinch has made off with more than their fair share during the night.

Last week, her home flooded. It turned out the countless loads of washing she has done eventually clogged a wastewater line. A Blackfalds plumber soon fixed the problem and someone in Lacombe picked up the bill in appreciation for her Christmas efforts.

On Tuesday, strong winds wrecked the tent where she showcased all of her donations. She hopes to have a backup tent ready to go on Thursday.

Items can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until about the second week of December.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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