Traditionally, Christmas Cheer starts in mid-November to collect for folks and families who might be having a difficult time during the holiday season. 

"We take in names of people who are already clients of the Killarney foodbank, or people whose names come to us through others," explains local Board member, Giselle Beaupre. "Before we get going to prepare Christmas packages for any person or family, we make sure that they are okay with it. We reach out and let them know that their name came to us, just to double check."

Traditionally the Killarney Christmas Cheer Board would be collecting money and gift items for those on the list throughout the last few weeks of November and into December, with bins all over town to receive items.  Monetary donations were brought to the local branch of Westoba Credit Union.

However, this year the Killarney Christmas Cheer is launching a new way of gift-giving, where they are collecting money only, and will then give gift cards from local businesses to each of the recipients, thus truly sharing the 'cheer' of Christmas giving.

"For many years the Christmas Cheer Committee and volunteers prepared the food boxes and the gift packages for all of our recipients," shares Beaupre. "But after a couple of years of thinking hard on this, the committee has decided to still provide Christmas Cheer to those who need it but doing so through the use and purchase of gift cards."

"So, instead of giving them gifts that are wrapped and chosen by us," she adds. "We'll give them gift cards that they can use at the Co-op here in town, or at the Red Apple Store, or we're going to do a series of Killarney Bucks that they can use in and around town!"

Beaupre says this new way of spreading Christmas cheer gives these individuals and families more autonomy, dignity and choice. "And it would make the Christmas season as fun for them as it has been for us all of these years!"

With the collection of monetary donations only, the Board is asking for participants to donate now during the month of November, as the distribution date this year will be December 2nd so recipients can use all of December to purchase both food and gift items.

The Killarney Red Apple has been an integral part of the Killarney Christmas Cheer Campaign every year, and they too, are on board with the new plan!

"Mel and her staff at the Red Apple have been amazing," says Beaupre, "So, they are going to kind of pivot a little bit this year as well. So, when shopping at the Red Apple rather than being asked if we would like to donate a gift to the Christmas sleigh in the store, we're going to be asked if we'd like to donate some dollars to the purchase of Christmas gift cards for all the folks who are on our Christmas Cheer list."

Funds can be donated at Westoba Credit Union, the Red Apple and directly to the Killarney Foodbank and you can designate those funds directly to the Christmas Cheer program.

Please listen to more of the Killarney Christmas Cheer Campaign below with Giselle Beaupre!

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, Discover Westman encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverWestman app.