Prospera staff display gifts donated, and which they wrapped, during their 2017 Youth Angel Tree Project. Pictured are (from left) Eileen, Sacha, Myrna, Aretha, Chad, Megan and Pardip. Sacha is from the West Oaks branch, and the others are from the Abbotsford branch on DeLair Road. (Submitted photo)

Youth Angel Tree Project underway at Prospera Credit Union

Three Abbotsford branches participate in collecting gifts for disadvantaged youths

Prospera Credit Union is once again coordinating gifts for disadvantaged youth through the Youth Angel Tree Project.

The program is now in its seventh year and involves trees being set up at Prospera branches, with holiday wishes from 100 youth.

The names and wish lists are provided by the Youth Resource Centre at Abbotsford Community Services (ACS).

Citizens are invited to stop by a branch and take a tag, purchase a new gift for the youth and bring it back unwrapped by Dec. 11.

Simone Maassen, manager of youth services at ACS, says the holidays can be a stressful and depressing time for some young people.

“When they realize that someone in the community cares enough to buy them something they wanted, it reminds them they have value and there are good people out there, which often hasn’t been their experience,” Maassen said.

Some of the youth who benefit from this program come from single-parent homes or are single parents themselves, are in foster care or have aged out of care and may not have a place to go at Christmas.

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Past gift requests have included work boots, grocery store gift cards, clothes and books.

Steven Lang, Prospera’s regional director for the Fraser Valley, said the Angel Tree program is something that staff and members look forward to each year.

“We see the positive impact that the program has on both the youth and their parents within the community,” he said.

“Abbotsford is a great city and we want to help everyone become contributing citizens and grow our community’s resilience. By helping the youth, we hope to show them the good in others and inspire them to have a positive impact on those around them.”

The program is offered through the three Prospera branches in Abbotsford – 34630 DeLair Rd., the West Oaks branch at 32700 South Fraser Way and the Clearbrook branch at 32071 South Fraser Way.

Once the new and unwrapped gifts are brought back, Prospera staff wrap the gifts, and youth workers at ACS deliver them to the recipients.

“It’s pretty stunning the effort Prospera puts into this event. They coordinate the gifts, check to make sure they’re equal and top them up if needed,” Maassen said. “Every detail down to the wrapping is just so thoughtful.”

Prospera also recently donated $10,000 towards youth programs at ACS for counselling services.

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