Local Christmas charities are hoping a new event will take off to eventually become the super success it is in Vancouver.
The new event — the Christmas Wish Breakfast — will support the herculean efforts of the main agencies that help out Red Deer families in need at Christmas.
The breakfast, classified as a premier event, will be on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Black Knight Inn and will focus on donations that help children. The costs of the event are being covered by the Black Knight Inn, Stantec and IFR Workwear.
Anyone who brings a new unwrapped toy will sit down to a free hot breakfast buffet, and the spirit of helping those in need at Christmas time.
Cash donations for the Christmas Bureau and Salvation Army will also be accepted. A charitable receipt will be provided if requested.
The first Christmas Wish Breakfast will also feature local choirs and Santa, and runs from 8 to 11 a.m.
Last year, the Red Deer Christmas Bureau and Red Deer Salvation Army served a record number of 4,500 people in need. Given the continued sluggish Alberta economy, that number is expected to grow this year.
A similar Christmas Wish breakfast event that began about 30 years ago in Vancouver has grown into a major charitable event in that city. Last year the Pan Pacific Vancouver Christmas Wish Breakfast was attended by over 5,000 people who donated over 17,000 tonnes of toys, 1,000 bikes and $22,000 in cash.
Teresa Kutynec, Red Deer Christmas Bureau president, said Monday that the bureau is not directly involved in the breakfast but they were consulted and “we’re just lucky enough to be the recipients.”
“We’re always looking for something new. … It might be a really good thing.”
She said the breakfast is hoping to tap into those families that may not donate now but are looking to, and this is an easy way to do it.
Kutynec said it’s hoped that about 300 people will attend the Red Deer event, including perhaps the church crowd.
The Red Deer Christmas Bureau has been slowly gearing up since the beginning of October. They expect to be going all week by November, and are beginning to sort through donated Christmas trees and ornaments from summer garage sales. These are given to families in need.
Last year the bureau served an extra 350 children, 1,345 in total. “I assume we will have at least that,” Kutynec said.
They will start taking applications on Nov. 7, she said, and they are looking for volunteers. Anyone who wants to help can call the Christmas Bureau main number, which is 403-347-2210, and ask for the volunteer co-ordinator.