Last year the staff at Prospera Credit Union’s Abbotsford branch on DeLair Road wanted to do something during the Christmas season to help others in the community.
“Everyone thinks about gifts for the little ones during the holidays and often we forget about the older youth, but some of these young people have been through a lot, and for many of them the holidays can be a depressing and stressful time,” says Brenda Monk, branch manager.
With the names of 50 youth provided by Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), the credit union staff set up an Angel Tree with the holiday wishes from each person printed on cards for staff and members to take away.
“What was really surprising for everyone was that these young people, who would be mostly between the ages of 13 and 19, weren’t asking for iPods or Xboxes or even cellphones like you would expect a typical teenager to do,” explains Monk. “Instead, they were asking for a pair of shoes, some pajamas or a grocery store card to buy food, things that we pretty much take for granted and assume everyone can afford.”
“The youth were stunned by the thoughtfulness and generosity reflected in the gifts they received from the Prospera Angel Tree,” said Simone Maassen, ACS manager of youth services. “One youth received his first-ever brand new pair of shoes. We frequently heard comments like, ‘Is this all for me?’ and received a lot of hugs when delivering the gifts. As one youth put it, ‘I can’t believe they did this for me…and they don’t even know me.’”
Again this year, the Angel Tree arrived in the branch in mid-November with the names of nearly 60 youth, and staff and members have been busy playing Santa by collecting gifts to fulfill the wishes on the tree, but more help is needed.
“We’ve still got about 20 names on the tree,” said staff member Jennifer Dickson.
“So even if you aren’t able to go shopping for a gift or you can only afford a small donation, please stop by the branch or give us a call.”
To support the project, visit the branch at 34630 DeLair Rd., or call 604-853-3317.