To ensure every child has a merry Christmas this year, regardless of the high cost of living or family struggles with finances, one Minnedosa woman is giving away 50 stockings stuffed with goodies to children in the community.
This year marks the third in a row that Lesley Fisher has run her Stockings for Kids program in the town, located 52 kilometres northeast of Brandon, for those who might otherwise go without this festive season.
“It’s definitely all about the kids,” Fisher told the Sun. “You see the faces of the kids when they get their stockings, and they’re super, super happy, and the parents are just awesome.”
After seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected Christmas and those who look forward to celebrating it every year in Minnedosa, Fisher came up with a way to make the holidays a little more special in uncertain times, and has continued the tradition in a post-pandemic world. Ensuring that children whose parents might be struggling financially still have the joy of opening presents on Christmas is what keeps her motivated each year, she said.
Raising money through donations and garage sales she hosted during the summer (and spending money of her own) for three years now, Fisher has filled stockings for 25 girls and 25 boys between the ages of four and 12. She also arranges for two additional giant four-foot stockings to be filled, with two lucky children winning them in early December.
“I try really hard all summer to yard sale and make enough money to bring it to life, but I run out of things people want to buy, so I did a raffle with my wreaths that I make out of wool and made over $300,” Fisher said.
Fisher also writes children’s books, including “Object of Balance, Objects of Destruction” and “The Dream Champion.” She uses the money she receives from the sale of the books for her Stockings for Kids charity as well.
But despite all her efforts, coming up with the$1,400 to fill all 50 stockings, and between $1,500 to $1,700 to fill the giant stockings, can be difficult, Fisher said.
Prices are going up even at dollar stores, and many bargain stores have doubled the cost of their candy.
“I find I am having a hard time finding ways to make money every year, so I go to the businesses of Minnedosa, and they step up big time to help get this to work. I am so proud of our community for this — they know how much the kids need this.”
To repay the community for its generosity, Fisher shops locally to fill the stockings. Numerous Minnedosa businesses have donated to the cause this year.
“The businesses stepped up big time, and they were helping me out like crazy,” Fisher said. “I’m so proud of them … their help is so wonderful, it really is. They put hundreds of dollars into it.”
While the smiles on the faces of the children and parents that Fisher touches through her charity project are more than payment enough for her, this year one child thanked her in a way that warmed her heart through and through.
“I had a present given to me from an anonymous little girl … it was one of my stockings, filled to the brim with stuff, so that was beautiful,” Fisher said. “It was totally unexpected. I really wish that I could have thanked her, because I don’t know who it was that gave it to me.”
Christmas has always been a special time for Fisher. In her past career working for Morris Equipment Ltd., she was known fondly by her co-workers and clients as the “Christmas lady.”
“I’ve always made sure that everybody had presents or cards, and it’s the same with my family. I always bring all the family together on Christmas Eve,” she said. “I always just love Christmas. It’s just one of those things that I’ve done.”
Fisher handed out her stockings in late November and early December and plans to do the same thing next year — and for many more Christmases to come.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun