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Changes coming for Christmas Cheer due to COVID-19

Volunteer-run organization nixes used items, canned food drive in schools for this year's donation drive; depot finds new home in former Station Mall Walmart
20181213-Christmas Cheer 2018-DT-03
A volunteer prepares toys for packing at the Christmas Cheer depot in this file photo from Dec. 13, 2018. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Christmas Cheer will go ahead this year, but the volunteer-run organization says it won’t be accepting donations of any used items from the public or collecting food items from schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are going to provide a program this year, although it will look very different from past programs just because of COVID and the restrictions we have, and what we must do” said Diane Marshall, convenor for Christmas Cheer. “But we will be providing as best we can for the needy families.”

Christmas Cheer - with a limited number of volunteers in tow due to social distancing measures - will begin accepting donations at the former Walmart in the Station Mall Nov. 16. 

“It’s a new facility for us, so we will have to reorganize our plans - but it will suit us very well, and we’re thrilled to be there because it’s a great facility for us,” said Marshall of the new location for the Christmas Cheer Depot. “It has loading docks, it’s accessible for people to drop in and leave donations.”

“So it’s going to work well for us.”

Christmas Cheer will not be going into schools in order to collect donations of canned food items this year, but Harvest Algoma will be accepting donations of canned food items on behalf of the annual donation drive. 

Christmas Cheer is asking for the following donations of new items: 

  • Toys, games and puzzles
  • Lego sets
  • Crafts
  • Hockey sticks and skates
  • Personal hygiene items and grooming products for teens 
  • Batteries for toys 

Marshall says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in how Christmas Cheer rolls out this year.

“It’s changed the way we’re dealing with it a great deal,” she said. “We hope that maybe by next year we’ll be back to our full program, but we still wanted to provide a program to our people the best we can.”

“We’re constricted, but we’ll be providing for the people.”

Christmas Cheer services between 1,600 and 1,800 families in need each year.