CAPTION: People can write down their requests on paper mitten cards at the library or the community centre for Santas Anonymous | Supplied / Erin ToopScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

What would winter be without Santas Anonymous? A lot less cheerful, that’s certain.

The program does two things to foster togetherness and make life in the mountains even more wonderful than it already is using a “made in Jasper” approach, according to Erin Toop, co-chair of the Jasper Community Team Society.

“We want to host events and/or support events that help bring the community together and just create that joy and spirit of brightness that is sometimes hard to get in December when everything is so dark,” she said.

“Our second goal is to raise funds to ensure that everyone can receive gifts during the holiday season. Receiving a gift is open to anyone in the Jasper community regardless of age or what holidays people celebrate to make sure that is as inclusive as possible.”

Santas Anonymous is one of the core programs of the society, and it has proven to be a staple of the festive season. Toop said it sees a “huge outpouring of support” from residents every year, having raised more than $20,000 already this year.

“Our goal was to raise more than that because we’ve seen this increasing need in the community. Right now, we’re at 278 applications received as of end of day on Friday.”

The program takes applications through Community Outreach Services, and this year’s deadline was Wednesday, prior to print publication. Toop expected a surge in applications during the last few days.

Toop said she was thankful for what people have offered to the program so far.

People can write down their requests on paper mitten cards at the library or the community centre. Anyone can then take one of the mittens and shop for the item, leaving it unwrapped in the drop-off boxes.

There has been a lot of support in terms of donations of gifts and cash, but Toop has noticed a rise in demand for necessities such as winter boots, coats and blankets.

“We’re at the point where we don’t need any more toys donated to us,” she said. “We’re asking for any of the donations that do come in for the latter part of December if they could be those bigger items that are going to keep people warm.”

Beyond that, volunteers are always appreciated. Those who wish to offer their assistance can reach out through the form on the website at www.jaspercommunityteamsociety.ca/santas-anonymous

There, you can also learn about the upcoming events the society is putting on to help brighten people’s season even further. There’s a PJ Party at Cubz Play Café on Friday, and the comedy movie Elf will be screened at Jasper Pizza Place on Sunday at 11 a.m. for kids, 3 p.m. for youths and 8 p.m. for adults. Tickets are $20 (kids under two are free), $25, and $40 respectively. 

A silent auction is also up and running online. Final bids must be in by Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. Tickets for a 50/50 draw are also available at 3 Sheets until December 18. 

All of these are intended to share the warmth of the community.

“We really want to spread joy,” Toop said.

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 13, 2023 at 06:00

This item reprinted with permission from    The Fitzhugh    Jasper, Alberta

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