It might sound crazy to some people to already be thinking about Christmas, but when you’re acting as somewhat of a Santa Claus to about 750 families then the early jump is needed.
For the last 20 years the charitable group Life*Spin has been recruiting sponsors to buys toys and clothes for children, who are part of a low-income family and would otherwise go without a Christmas gift. The initiative, called the Christmas Sponsorship Program, also allows the option of giving a gift card to a grocery store to the family.
The problem is about 200 families don’t get sponsored.
“If they don’t get something for Christmas they think they were bad because as a society in Canada that’s what we’ve told the children, that if Santa doesn’t come it’s because you’ve been naughty,” said Life*Spin executive director Jacqueline Thompson. “We don’t want kids to think that. We want to lift children up and empower the family to meet the needs of the kids.”
To make sure every child gets a present, Life*Spin is hosting an event called Chocolate Sunday: Chocolate Pleasures and Christmas Treasures on Nov. 16 at the Marconi Club. The event will feature a desert buffet, chocolate fountains, sundae bar, a pop-up playground, a silent auction, and local musicians and vendors. Tickets are $15 per person or $35 for families.
In its inaugural year in 2012, the event raised $1,500. This time around Life*Spin is hoping to bring in at least $4,000 with all the money going towards the Christmas Sponsorship Program.
Some people even leave Chocolate Sunday sponsoring a child.
The program already has 100 sponsors signed up, who have participated in the past.
Life*Spin suggests about $30 for a gift and around $25 for a food gift card for each parent, so the average family with one child totals about $80. Sponsors can choose the size of the family they want to help.
Life*Spin interviews the families receiving the gifts to find out what the child likes. These days, anything connected to the movie Frozen is big, Thompson said.
The donated gifts are given to the parents, so children don’t know it’s coming from charity, but often times parents come back with thank-you cards for Life*Spin and the sponsors.
“It’s critical for us to be able to help everyone who needs help,” said Marissa Thorburn, a member of Life*Spin’s board of directors.
Life Spin will be teaming up with the London Police Service for the annual Christmas Lights and Sirens event, held at White Oaks Mall on Nov. 29, where people are asked to donate toys and fill up a police cruiser. It runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the toys go towards the Christmas Sponsorship Program.
For information about Life*Spin, visit www.lifespin-org.doodlekit.com/home/index.