Amid a difficult time for many, the Richmond Christmas Fund is aiming to brighten people’s holiday seasons again this year.
The Christmas Fund, which provides low-income residents with grocery vouchers, toys, and gift cards, has launched early this year and is currently accepting virtual registration appointments.
“We have seen a steady stream of people requesting to be registered for assistance,” says Ed Gavsie, president and chief executive officer of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, which operates the Christmas Fund.
Applicants must present documentation confirming their eligibility including photo ID, proof of Richmond residency, and a document proving enrolment in a government income assistance program.
Last year, just under 3,000 people received assistance—and the Christmas Fund was able to help everyone who asked for it. Gavsie says the team is planning for a slight increase over last year’s numbers.
In pre-COVID years, parents were able to browse the toy room and select gifts for their children. Last year, volunteers prepared custom toy bags for each family based on children’s ages and interests.
“This year’s registration process will function much the same way, with eligibility assessments happening virtually and distribution days selected closer to the holidays, where we’ll hand out pre-packaged items,” says Gavsie.
A limited number of in-person registration appointments are also available for those who don’t have a computer or Internet connection. More information is available online at rcrg.org/ChristmasFundHelp or by calling 604-279-7035.
The annual RCMP Toy Drive is being planned for Nov. 20 in the Lansdowne Centre parking lot, where it was relocated last year. And the major fundraising event, A Not So Silent Night, will again feature a virtual auction—although no in-person party will be held.
“Other events are being planned, but not yet confirmed as we await further information from the provincial health office,” says Gavsie.
While the continuing pandemic may put a bit of a damper on the holidays, the Christmas Fund’s volunteers and donors are continuing to give Richmondites a helping hand.
People are encouraged to sign up within the next few weeks for a smoother process, and online bookings will close next month. For more information, or to register, click here.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel