Red Deer Christmas Bureau wants to provide more people with artificial trees when Christmas rolls around again in 11 months.
For 60 years families in need have received free gifts for children and a holiday meal from the community agency.
Bureau president Teresa Kutynec said many people were unaware that the bureau also collects donated Christmas trees and decorations.
“There’s always a need for trees. Artificial trees are expensive. Unless they are gifted one from a family member or friend, they don’t really have access to one,” Kutynec said.
“They’re so appreciative. It’s just not something they can afford.”
She said one client asked for tree ornaments to decorate an artificial tree he found in the trash in his neighbourhood.
In November, when clients can start applying to the bureau, they are asked if they need a tree. Usually about 40 trees are given out to families, along with some decorations to go with it.
She said a recent Facebook post by the bureau about the need for trees has already garnered some after-Christmas attention, but trees are accepted year round.
People can call the bureau at 403-347-2210 to arrange for a tree drop-off or pickup.
“If people are doing spring cleaning and want to get rid of the tree and buy a new one for next year, we’re certainly taking them.”
She said a lot of people don’t know what to do with their unwanted trees. Those that go unsold at garage sales put on by local community agencies are also donated to the bureau, as well as decorations.
“We take ornaments, lights, yard decorations, stockings, tree skirts. We’ll take everything.
“We try to cover all the bases. We take wrapping paper, Christmas bags. We go through it and if it’s reusable we offer it to our clients.”
Volunteers will also refurbish the items when possible, like adding lights or a tree stand.
For Christmas 2021, the bureau received 1,008 applications for assistance and helped 750 children. A total of 806 food vouchers were given out for people to buy a holiday meal.
Red Deer Firefighters Children’s Charity is once again collecting and disposing of live trees leftover from Christmas.
Pick up is on Jan. 15, but this year trees will only be picked up after an online donation has been made to the charity.
To make a donation go to — www.reddeerfirefighterschildrenscharity.com — and register by leaving a message with an address and contact information, and place the tree in the front yard.
Only trees registered before Jan. 14 will be picked up.