The 12th annual Prospera Credit Union Youth Angel Tree Project is collecting Christmas gifts to help brighten what can be a very dark and difficult time for some youth.
The project is run in collaboration with the Archway Youth Resource Centre, which provides youth and family support, street outreach services and crisis intervention.
There are tags for about 70 youth at Prospera’s two Abbotsford branches that the public can choose from. The tags include personalized gift suggestions for local youth, and the gift ideas range from shoes, socks and clothes to grocery store gift cards, household items and books.
Once the new gifts are brought back, Prospera staff assemble and wrap the gifts, and youth workers at Archway deliver them to the recipients.
“Prospera has truly amazed us with their Angel Tree generosity every Christmas. They’ve had such an impact on our youth and families over the past 12 years,” said Brandy Sundstrom, an Archway youth worker.
She said Christmas is a tough time for the youth they work with. Many of them are alone and will miss out on Christmas dinners and family gatherings or presents to open.
“Some of the youth that will receive the gifts are unhoused or couch-surfing, others are estranged from their families, and all of them are living below the poverty line.”
Sundstrom said the youth are touched that a complete stranger has gone out of their way to get them a gift, and many of them hope to do the same for others when their situations improve.
Barb Slack, Abbotsford branch manager at Prospera, said staff and members of the credit union look forward every year to the Angel Tree Program.
“The amount of generosity we witness is what makes the magic of Christmas. Knowing that we are able to help kids who are often forgotten and struggling feel loved is remarkable,” she said.
People wishing to participate can pick up a tag by Dec. 7 at one of the two Prospera branches in Abbotsford – 34630 DeLair Rd. and the West Oaks branch at 32700 South Fraser Way.