A little help is returning to the Smoky River Region for those who are financially struggling this Christmas.

Smoky River Family and Community Support Services director Crystal Tremblay says the Christmas Voucher program is set to return to give a little assistance to families in need.

“The Christmas Voucher Program assists people who are struggling financially at Christmas,” says Tremblay.

“We provide each successful applicant with a voucher to purchase food at either Falher Foods or Co-op, as well as toys for children aged 16 and younger. Each voucher amount is based on the size of the family.”

Tremblay says the program has been helping people in the region for quite some time, with 60 vouchers handed out in 2022 to assist 142 men, women, and children. She says those vouchers totaled $9,400 and there were over $3,000 in toy donations collected through the Red Apple.

“Christmas is a very difficult time for many people, as finances are tight,” she says.

“This takes the pressure off the individuals and families to know there is help, and they don’t have to choose between paying the power bill or having a Christmas for the family.”

Tremblay explains the program is fully funded through donations that are received from the public each year. She says FCSS could not afford to fund the program without the generous support of community members.

“We know that with everything costing more there are many people who are working that don’t make ends meet,” she explains.

“If you struggle to make ends meet we encourage you to apply. You don’t need to be low income to apply, we just ask that you prove the need for the program, so your allowable expenses outweigh your income,” she adds.

“If you’re unsure whether or not you qualify contact us.”

Tremblay says the vouchers are a certificate given to each successful applicant, allowing them to spend specific amounts at the local grocery stores. She says the total amount will vary depending on size of family. Some toys are also donated to each child under the age of 16 years.

Applications for the program are located at each municipality office, including Birch Hills County, and the Smoky River FCSS offices.

“With the rising costs we are preparing for an increase in applications this year,” Tremblay notes.

“We will also be hosting the Festival of Trees again this year. All of the profits go to the running of the Christmas Voucher Program.”

Tremblay says more information about the Festival of Trees is set to be released in the next week.

“Without the support of the residents of the Smoky River and Birch Hills region this program would not be available to our residents,” she says.

“Donations can be made at the Town of Falher office, or we will have Santa Boxes throughout the region that donations can be made in. As well, the Red Apple will be running the donation drive for the toys as they have done each year.”

Applications run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 8 at 4:30 p.m. No late applications will be accepted. Vouchers will be handed out in McLennan at the Town of McLennan office Dec. 13, and the Town of Falher FCSS office Dec. 14-15.

“If you live east of Range Road 10 in Birch Hills County you need to apply with Smoky River FCSS, but if you live west of that line you need to apply to Central Peace FCSS,” says Tremblay.

“We could not run this program without our partners in the program: Falher Foods Falher Co-op, Smoky River Chamber of Commerce, Red Apple, and our community members that donate to the program.”

If you would like to donate to the Christmas Hamper program, please call (780) -837-2220.

Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News – southpeacenews.com

Original Published on Nov 08, 2023 at 09:30

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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