Christmas is about hope.
It doesn’t matter what one’s beliefs are — anyone can draw something positive, something special from the story of Christmas. It’s about believing that something good is going to happen.
And all indications are, Central Alberta is fully engaged in that very idea.
As so many are drawn into the blizzard of Christmas activities, from church to concerts to shopping to entertaining, they are fortunate to have abundance, good health, loving families and friends. And they are asked, amidst that good fortune, to share a bit of it.
This time of year, there are many ways to do that.
The season brings with it the Festival of Trees, Charity Checkstops, Sally Ann kettles, hampers and Adopt-A-Family, food donations at events like the Westerner’s Christmas bazaar, Christmas Bureau gifts, toy donations to cover parking tickets, and more.
Each of these has a similar goal — to help those in need, whether they be sick, poor, alone or temporarily down on their luck.
Many people have had a helping hand that enabled them to move on to better things.
But it’s not always just about trying to move people forward. Sometimes it’s just about some very basic things — like seeing that people don’t go hungry because they had to spend more on heating during the winter, or seeing kids break into a big smile and the relief on a single parent’s face that her or his children will have some Christmas joy.
If that helping hand turns into a magical success story, great. But if not, then just giving unconditionally to help someone out is fine, too.
In fact, one could argue that the act of giving without receiving any recognition at all is true charity.
In this special time when faith, hope and charity are expressed, those who can are asked to give a tittle more. It’s not an obligation.
It’s an opportunity to remember that hard times can hit anyone — most of us are never completely immune from the poverty cliff. And we make our lives richer through showing compassion for others.
So when Central Albertans are called upon to give at this time of year, they tend to do so without hesitation.
The figures will continue to be tallied as December moves along.
But so far, we’ve seen things like the Red Deer charity Checkstop raise $23,000 (a healthy increase over last year), and $46,000 in cash donated via the Stuff A Bus campaign for the food bank. Hundreds of thousands will have been raised for the regional hospital foundation, via the Festival of Trees.
The Salvation Army, which distributes hampers to families, is seeing a steady number of applications, more than 120 so far. The Red Deer Food Bank fed 2,100 people, including children, last month.
There’s always a need, not just at Christmas. Fortunately, people always seem to respond accordingly.
Giving is a reflection of a caring community.
Good on you Central Alberta.
Mary-Ann Barr is the Advocate’s assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 403-314-4332.