Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen, left, Christmas Wish Breakfast chair Lynn Van Laar and firefighter Mark Stadnick were busy Sunday. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Central Albertans help families during holidays with Christmas Wish Breakfast

It takes a community to help a community.

And Sunday morning at the fourth annual Christmas Wish Breakfast in Red Deer, families were helping families.

Breakfast chair Lynn Van Laar said this year’s event is indeed themed “Families helping families.”

The concept of the event is simple: bring a new unwrapped toy and enjoy free breakfast.

The toys are given out to central Alberta families who can use the help during the holiday season.

The number of people who joined in Sunday at the Black Knight Inn increased from about 700 people last year to an estimated 900 people this year.

“I checked about quarter after 9 (a.m.) and it was pretty close to 700,” said Van Laar, adding the event ran from 8 to 11 a.m.

“That’s what we had last year for the whole morning, so we’re ahead.”

Asked why the annual event has grown, she said the breakfast has a wider reach in the community. Another reason for the growth is the need.

The breakfast event divides cash donations, gift cards and toys between the Christmas Bureau and The Salvation Army.

The Red Deer Firefighters Children’s Charity donated about $6,500 for toys this year.

Red Deer Emergency Services Chief Ken McMullen said it brings him joy to see his team leaving the everyday business behind and volunteering.

“We get to see the other side, the charity side, and help out,” said McMullen.

It is great to help out families who are experiencing financial difficulties during the holiday season, said Mark Stadnick, one of more than 50 firefighters who volunteered at the event.

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