By Mamta Lulla
Every year, the Tri-Region business community shows their generosity during Christmas time and this year is no different.
The Tri-Region business community is supportive of various initiatives including the two hamper programs run by the Kinette Club of Spruce Grove and Kinsmen Club of Stony Plain.
Thanks to the donations made by local businesses and the entire community, about 1,200 families in the Tri-Region will enjoy the holiday season without any hurdles this year, said Carolyn Ryan Dumont, Spruce Grove Kinettes’ Christmas Hamper chair.
Both organizations run their own hamper programs but they join hands and run the initiative together to make sure every family that needs help gets it.
Dumont said local businesses come up with unique ideas to help with donations around Christmas time. For example, Tri-Municipal Veterinary Clinic in Spruce Grove is offering free nail trimmings and whatever customers donate for the appointment, goes towards the hamper program.
Both clubs’ Christmas hampers come with food items with ingredients that would help with that perfect family Christmas meal like jams, peanut butter, canned meat, Christmas candy and gift certificates to local supermarkets for perishables like turkey. They also come with toys for younger kids and gift certificates for older kids.
The initiatives in Acheson area are different, but the purpose is the same – to donate to the Kinsmen Club of Stony Plain and Kinette Club of Spruce Grove for their annual Christmas hamper programs.
Natalie Birnie, Acheson Business Association executive director said the generosity of the businesses never ceases to amaze her.
The association gives out about 500 boxes to more than 120 businesses in Acheson.
“Nobody wastes a good box this time of the year,” said Birnie.
Last year about 6,700 pounds of food and just over $25,000 was collected by the association. Birnie said, every year, the businesses do better than the previous year.
The association also does a Santa Run which is on Dec. 12 this year. Both Santa and Mrs. Claus join the run and stop by at each business to pick up boxes that are full.
Birnie said one thing she has learned from the program is that Santa and Mrs. Claus aren’t just for kids.
“Everyone loves them and employees take pictures with them,” she said.
Apart from the boxes, there are two donation drop-off locations in the Acheson area where the community is asked to donate. One of them is at the Acheson Fire Station. Jandel Homes, a local business, also provides a donation location as part of the ‘Fill-a-House’ campaign.
For the last 39 years, Kinsmen Club of Stony Plain has helped families in Stony Plain and beyond by giving away hampers that contain Christmas essentials, said Ed Berney, Kinsmen Christmas hampers program chair.
Last year, the Kinsmen helped about 500 families in the Stony Plain area bringing joy to about 1,700 people during the holiday season, said Berney.
The Kinettes’ hamper program has been running for the last 44 years. A rough math suggests each Kinettes’ hamper cost about $250 to $300 and the club would be giving away about 660 hampers this holiday season, said Dumont.
Currently, there are approximately 67 donation drop-off locations in Spruce Grove which includes local businesses and about 50 locations in Stony Plain, Dumont said.