No child should miss Christmas.
This is the mantra of the Nakusp Area Christmas Bureau (NACB).
The NACB, which formed in 2015 and recently became a chartered society, hopes to bring a bit of Christmas joy to children and families in need in Nakusp.
The one way the society does this is through the annual Christmas party at the Legion. While at the party, children are called up by Santa Claus himself and are given a pre-wrapped gift, which they can open right away should they choose to do so.
“We understand the economy isn’t what it could be,” said Wanda Olsen-Saunders, a member of the NACB. “I know people who have grown up without Christmases, and I just can’t see that for any child, especially the younger ones.”
Because of timing issues, the NACB will only be able to host the Christmas party again, but they have bigger plans for next year.
They would like to work with the Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services to get a list of the names and ages of children in need so they can do the party at the Legion and work with community service groups, so parents can register, pick up some gifts, and bring them home to wrap and put under the Christmas tree.
“We don’t want to know people’s last names, we just want this to be totally anonymous, even when we deal with Community Services next year,” said Olsen-Saunders. “We want them to set up a code system. They know who they’re helping, they give us the list, we package the presents, put it in a green bag and put a tag on it per the coded number they have given us.”
To help collect gifts for the children, Home Hardware has offered to set up a drop box for new, unwrapped presents, starting at the beginning of December. Dog Sense Boutique will also have a drop box available for new, unwrapped toys, along with one for dog treats and toys.
When a person drops off a new, unwrapped present at Home Hardware, they will also have the chance to fill out a ballot for the chance to win one of two bikes for a child aged 6-8 years old. The draw is on Dec. 19, and the bike will be delivered on Dec. 24.
There are many reasons the NACB want to help needy families celebrate the holiday season. One reason, though simple, is an important one.
“Seeing them smile ear to ear when they open their presents, they just glow,” said Paul Saunders, Olsen-Saunders’ husband and fellow member of the NACB. “They’re just so pleased and happy with what they get.”
This year, the society is only doing presents for children up to Grade 6, but over the next few years they hope to offer presents for children up to 18 years-old. They would also like to expand to helping other communities in the area, from Trout Lake all the way to Edgewood.