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Christmas Hope helps more than 9,500 people celebrate Christmas in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE –

More people than ever asked for help from the Christmas Hope campaign this year.

Despite the tall task, charities and non-profits stepped up to make sure everyone had a happy holiday.

Christmas Hope is made up of Lethbridge Family Services, MyCityCare, the Salvation Army, Volunteer Lethbridge and both Lethbridge food banks.

In all, 9,514 people received some sort of support from the campaign this holiday season.

Of those, 6,150 were children.

That’s the most people the campaign has ever helped and a sharp increase from the 8,000 it served last year.

“Obviously, we had our work cut out this Christmas, but it was thanks to the community that came along with support and the tireless workers and volunteers with all of our partners that really allowed us to make that impact this Christmas,” said Zachary Marshall, community ministries officer for the Salvation Army in Lethbridge.

The non-profits were preparing to help 10,000 people this holiday season.

“What we found this year is that the need was great. And what I mean by that is that if there was a need in a family, it was pretty dire in so many of the cases,” said Michelle Gallucci, Lethbridge Family Services director of advancement and communication.

While the campaign worked to make sure every child had a toy, the biggest challenge was the request for food.

The need was so great, Angel Tree, which is run by Lethbridge Family Services, included grocery gift cards in its gift bundles for the first time this year.

“I think it was the food that really spoke to us. We recognized that very early on. And if you do grocery shopping, you know how prices have gone up,” Gallucci said.

While this may be the end of Christmas Hope this year, the work doesn’t stop here.

Non-profits, in particular food banks, are expecting a busy January.

“We’re very grateful that there are so many other pop-up initiatives at Christmastime, where many other agencies take the burden off of some of our Christmas Hope agencies,” said Danielle McIntyre, executive director of Lethbridge Interfaith Food Bank.

“Unfortunately, they’re not available in every other month of the year, so we expect to see that need continue.”

Nearly 1,400 volunteers contributed more than 12,000 hours to Christmas Hope this year.

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