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Angel Tree returns with a different spin

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It is that time of year when local organizations and charities start looking for support to ensure everyone in the community has a merry Christmas.
But unlike previous years, in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic is adding a twist to the way those charities operate.
The Angel Tree, for example will operate, but not like it has in the past.
“We can’t have people sitting in the mall, and have everybody touching the angels, so we’re going to have a big instruction board, right where the tree is,” Angel Tree co-ordinator Robyn Gambler said.
“We’re still decorating a tree, but just with normal decorations.”
People wanting to donate gifts or monetary donations can drop them off at the Dauphin Friendship Centre (DFC), Parkland Title Loans or Dauphin Music and Electronics.
“We’re trying to push the gift card thing, so then we could just shop if we’re short of stuff,” Gambler said.
“They could be dropped off at any of the locations.”
Gambler added COVID-19 is not only affecting the way the program operates, but she expects demand for gifts and food hampers to increase this year, as well.
“We’re expecting an increase this year directly related to COVID and, I think, directly related to CERB because people are getting cut off left and right, not having the rent paid and everything. And we still need to try and get hampers to these people, presents to the kids,” she said.
“I think we’re going to end up with at least an extra 50 or 60 families. But you know what, Dauphin is so generous. Even with gifts last year, we hardly had to buy any. People just kept dropping off.”
Gambler said the Angel Tree will be set up at Dauphin Market Place Mall, Nov. 13.
“That’s when the instruction board will go up, so we will start collecting anytime. In fact, people are actually starting to drop off gifts,” she said, adding the intake for Christmas hampers will be held, Nov. 16 from noon to 6 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the back hall of DFC.
“We have to specify that these applications are for Dauphin, Sifton and Ochre River only. We can’t do all the other communities anymore because we were just going in the hole so bad,” Gambler said, adding there are some special rules which will have to be followed.
“They have to wear a mask when they come in and they have to have their Manitoba health card. We’re going to have someone at the back door monitoring because we can only let a few in at a time.”
Gambler hopes the current situation with the area being restricted orange under the province’s COVID response system is rectified prior to the hampers being handed out closer to Christmas.
“I think the big challenge is going to be when we’re handing out the hampers in December because we’re still in code orange there’s only gonna be like four of us to get 300 hampers out the door,” she said.
“So we’re trying to figure a set up for that. If we’re in yellow we’re fine, then they can come in and get their hampers. Otherwise we’re going to be carrying them out to the car, we’re going to have like a drive-through.”
Anyone wanting more information on the Angel Tree or the Christmas hamper program can call Gambler at the DFC at 204-638-5707.