Pair of city councillors hoping to provide a ‘pick-me-up’ with Christmas bags of everyday necessities

Ward 1 Coun. Charlene Miller and Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha pose on Christmas Eve for last year's event where they distributed bags filled with everyday essentials. Botha holds a handwritten note they received for the initiative. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“Often you won’t think twice about the toiletries that you buy or underwear or any item that you have and use.” – Evert Botha

While many youth across Prince Albert will have stuffed stockings to dig into on Christmas morning, there’s also several families who can’t afford the basics—that’s the message city councillors Evert Botha and Charlene Miller are spreading this holiday season.

They’ve teamed up to gather donations of toiletries and warm clothing to hand out at the second annual Community Christmas Eve Celebration. Botha is handing out bags for the guys and Miller for the ladies.

Miller started the initiative four years ago. At the Community Christmas Dinners held every year on Dec. 25, she said she felt the women and girls “needed a little bit of something for themselves.”

A year later, Botha decided to join and do the same thing for men.

“We’re, as a society, very focused on making sure that there’s gifts in the stockings for kids and for youth and very often it’s the parents and the uncles and the grandfathers who go without,” said Botha.

“Often you won’t think twice about the toiletries that you buy or underwear or any item that you have and use.”

Botha and Miller are asking for donations of gym bags, backpacks, hand bags, purses, deodorant, toothbrushes, razors, soap, shower gel, makeup, chocolates and candy and clothing such as mitts, scarves and winter jackets.

On Dec. 24 from noon until four at the Union Centre, the pair will be distributing the bags and providing a comfortable space for people to visit. Botha said there will be coffee and tea, and they’re seeking donations of hot chocolate, marshmallows, cake and other baked goods.

“It’s very important to give back to our community members who are suffering, the working poor. (It’s) just a little pick-me-up and a cheer for Christmas. We’ll get them through a little bit of a tough time,” said Miller.

“Everybody should have at least the basics.”

Botha said he handed out about 135 bags for the guys in his first year, 155 last year, and the goal for this year is to reach 150. Miller said typically she distributes about 250 bags for the ladies.

Conrad Burns is helping Botha and Chrissy Halliday is helping Miller to collect donations and spread the word.

Donations can be dropped off at the Medicine Shoppe at 597 28th St. W. To volunteer or make a donation, contact Botha at (306) 980-5387, Burns at (306) 941-0780, Miller at (306) 981-3636 or Halliday at (306) 961-0233.

“It is the time for giving,” emphasized Botha.