Secret Santa, which once again is asking the community to help ensure that less-fortunate families have a happy Christmas, will be wrapping up earlier than usual this year.
That means anyone planning to contribute to the annual collection of gifts and financial donations should take note.
“We are doing deliveries on Dec. 13,” said organizer Michelle Schaub, who explained the deliveries to families will be a little bit earlier because, in the last couple of years, some of them left to visit relatives in other communities like Fort Providence or Fort Resolution as Christmas neared.
The Hay River Fire Department will make deliveries in town on Dec. 13, while the RCMP will make deliveries on the Hay River Reserve on Dec. 14.
Usually, the deliveries are made on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19, Schaub noted. “So we’re about a week early this year.”
Secret Santa will be accepting donations until Dec. 13.
“So we’re just going to try it a little bit earlier this year and see how it goes,” said Schaub. “If it works well, then I can see that continuing in the future around mid-month.”
There are already Secret Santa collection boxes at Home Hardware and Ring’s Pharmacy.
Schaub is also collecting gifts and other donations at Secret Santa headquarters in the former Francophone association offices next to Fields store.
She said people can drop off donations there. If she is not there, they can reach her by the telephone number posted on the door, or contact her through Facebook.
Secret Santa helps between 80-100 families every year.
Schaub is assisted by Social Services, the Family Support Centre and K’atlodeeche First Nation in identifying the families in need.
Secret Santa is accepting donations of new, unwrapped gifts.
“It could be anything for any age between zero and 17,” Schaub said, adding that ages three to five always have many presents and it would be appreciated if people can focus on other age groups.
She noted that, along with donations from individuals, Secret Santa is also assisted by businesses and organizations.
One of the biggest supporters is Hay River Mobile Home Park, which donates $5,000 each year and is providing the space in the former offices of the Francophone association.
The Royal Canadian Legion donated $2,000 this year.
Many other businesses help with financial donations or in various ways – Home Hardware, Hay River Liquor Retailers, Super A, Carter Industries, and more.
“It’s just so nice to see that the whole community comes together,” said Schaub.
The Hay River Fire Department and the RCMP help out each year with a Toy Drive throughout the community, which took place on Nov. 30.