Gift bags for guys and ladies to be handed out at special Christmas Eve event

Peter Lozinski/daily Herald Capt. Laura Van Schaik poses with Evert Botha and Conrad Burns after donating bags of socks to the Christmas gift bags for guys initiative at the medicine Shoppe Pharmacy Monday. The project has also received large donations of deodorant and mini chocolate bars (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Instead of handing out gift bags for guys and for ladies at the annual Community Christmas Dinner, the organizers of the holiday collection are hosting their own event on Christmas Eve.

Coun. Evert Botha announced the move during a donation event Monday. The initiative, led by himself, Conrad Burns and fellow city councillor Charlene Miller will host a pickup and hot chocolate event from noon until 4 p.m. at the Union Centre on Dec. 24.

‘We decided to create a separate event to not distract from the Community Christmas Supper,” Botha said.

“There is a lot of giving, a lot of love to share in our community, and we don’t want to distract from anything that’s being done by the organizers of the Community Christmas Supper.”

The event will have hot chocolate and marshmallows, cake, cookies, maybe some eggnog and “a couple of surprises,” Botha said.

‘By five o’clock we’ll be done there and everybody can go spend Christmas with their families and enjoy the Community Christmas supper on Christmas Day.

Botha said that by holding the event from noon until 4 p.m., it shouldn’t interfere with other initiatives or traditions such as evening services, and by holding it a day before the annual community dinner, it should avoid any conflicts with that initiative.

He also said that because the two events — the gift bags for people in need and the dinner — are asking for different kinds of donations in the run-up to the event, there shouldn’t be much risk of donor fatigue.

Already, the collection has all the deodorant it needs, thanks to a contribution from the YWCA. Botha said the initiative will distribute the collected toiletries, warm articles of clothing and treats in bags for people who may or may not attend the community supper.

The gift bags for guys project got another delivery Monday, from Capt. Laura Van Schaik and the Salvation Army. She stopped by the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, which is serving as one of the drop-off points for donations, with bags worth of socks.

“We’ve donated socks … because it’s so important,” she said.

“There is nothing better than a cozy pair of socks at Christmas, and (having) warm feet is really important.”

The socks come from the Toasty Toes initiative led by the Chiropractor’s Association of Saskatchewan. That project sees socks donated to Salvation Army locations from chiropractors from across the province. Socks from that collection will also be distributed through the Salvation Army thrift store and to Prince Albert corrections.

Donations for the gift bags for guys project can be dropped off at the Medicine Shoppe Prince Albert between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at 597 28th Street West, or by calling Botha at 980-5387 or Burns at 941-0780. Donations for the gift bags for ladies initiative can be dropped off at the Bernice Sayese Centre Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by calling Miller at 981-3636.