Prospera Credit Union is collecting gifts for disadvantaged youth in their ninth annual Youth Angel Tree Project.
At Prospera’s two Abbotsford branches, tags for almost 70 youth are hung on trees, and community members can take a tag. The tags include personalized gift suggestions for Abbotsford youth, and range from work boots and grocery store gift cards to clothes and books.
The names and wish lists are provided by the Archway Youth Resource Centre, a place for youth and their families who want a helping hand to connect with each other and the community.
The youth who receive the gifts are from homes that are far below the poverty line. They may come from single-parent homes or be single parents themselves.
Some are homeless and couch surfing. Some may be living on their own with no family connection, or they may have aged out of foster care and do not have a place to go for Christmas.
“Christmas is an extremely difficult and lonely time for our youth, and now we have COVID on top of it all,” said Brandy Sundstrom, an Archway youth support worker.
“As a non-profit program, we aren’t able to buy gifts for our youth, but we know how little they have, how much they deserve, and how much little things really do make a difference for them.”
Joanna Welsh, assistant manager at Prospera’s Abbotsford branch, said the Angel Tree Program is something that staff and members look forward to each year.
“This year, it’s even more important for us to give back because of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our community,” she said. “Many of the wish tags include items that we take for granted, like the ability to get a haircut. Our Prospera team is happy to be able to contribute in a meaningful way, and we are in awe of the generosity of our members who want to make the holiday season a little brighter for the youth in our community.”
The program is offered at two local Prospera branches – 34630 DeLair Rd. and the West Oaks branch at 32700 South Fraser Way.
Once the new and unwrapped gifts are brought back, Prospera staff wrap the gifts, and youth workers at Archway deliver them to the recipients.
“Every year, Prospera puts so much detail and heart into coordinating the gifts, checking to make sure they’re equal and topping them up if needed,” Sundstrom said.
“Words can’t express how much we appreciate Prospera and everyone who contributes to making Christmas a little better for our youth.”