The City of St. Catharines, in collaboration with Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold, is seeking to provide local children in need with a new toy or gift this holiday season.
On November 12, the city kicked off its annual Tree of Little Angels gift drive which has been running for 22 years. The endeavour seeks to collect new, unwrapped gifts for local children and has seen special Little Angels trees set up at various community locations across the city. At these locations, residents can take a Little Angel tag off the tree, purchase a gift and return the tag and gift.
Over 500 gifts were donated in support of Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold last year.
“This is a long-standing tradition we are proud of; it builds community and helps those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to celebrate the holidays in this way,” said Brianne Wilson, community and events supervisor. “City staff and residents always rally together, making sure Christmas morning is full of surprises [that] little children across St. Catharines look forward to.”
The city will accept gifts for children up to 16 years old until December 13, with Tree of Little Angels locations set up at St. Catharines City Hall; the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre; St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre; the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre and City-run community centres.
Donations without tags, as well as gift card donations will also be accepted at Tree of Little Angels locations.
“The Tree of Little Angels program is really important to us,” said Betty-Lou Souter, Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold chief executive officer.
With numbers of children in need only set to rise and toy reserves at a roughly 20-year low, donations to the organization are urgently needed according to Souter. She noted demand on the program is expected to increase once again this year.
Last year the program helped about 13,000 individuals over the holidays, of whom 3,000 were children who would not have otherwise received a gift.
“No child should be denied the magic of [the holidays],” said Souter.
Interested individuals can also purchase a gift for either a child, teen or senior without taking a tag off a Tree of Little Angels. Once purchased, the gifts may be delivered to 12 North St., St. Catharines or 19 Albert St. W. in Thorold. It is still strongly encouraged that gifts be unwrapped and new for safety and security purposes. Gift ideas for each age group can be found on the Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold website.
For more information regarding the Tree of Little Angels drive and donation locations, individuals can visit www.stcatharines.ca/LittleAngels. For more information on St. Catharines and Thorold Community Care and its programs visit www.communitycarestca.ca.