LAC LA BICHE - Many people throughout the Lac La Biche community came together - in a socially distanced way - through the holiday season, to make sure that as many people as possible are able to experience some joy this holiday season.
The Community Connections Group, community members from the region, the Kinsmen Club of Lac La Biche, County Peace Officers, Northern Lights Public Schools officials, local media and more, have helped to put together gift bags, Christmas stockings, and letters for the homeless population, seniors, and other residents who might be alone over the holidays this year.
Homeless shelters, food banks, youth groups, church organizations, and community members from all walks of life have been active over the holidays trying to put some normal back into the new-norm created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a Thursday afternoon in the week before Christmas, and the inside the NLPS division office in downtown Lac La Biche, and it looks like Christmas in overdrive. There is a large COVID-19 cautious Santa wearing a mask at the front door, gift bags all lined up ready to be sent, letters lined up in a row addressed to the elders they will be going to, and lots of donated items from the public. Representatives from the Lakeland Out of the Elements Shelter Society are getting gift bags filled with essential items like toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, combs, and brushes so that the homeless population is not forgotten on Christmas day.
“It’s really important to look out for one another. People need to know that they are not alone, and so giving back is important, especially this time of year and with COVID-19,” said Heather Stromquist, the director of community partnerships and engagement at NLPS, and just one of the Community Connector Group members who worked at get everything organized so all of the gift bags were ready by Christmas.
All of the seniors in the retirement homes in Lac La Biche and Plamondon received multiple letters from students and community members from across the region with words of encouragement to help get them through the holidays.
“We didn’t want to buy anything that wouldn’t benefit the seniors, so we asked the staff at the Greater North Foundation what would be the most useful thing for them,” said Stromquist.
There are also six senior residents that do not have any active family members or friends in their lives, so Stromquist says those people would benefit from a full Christmas stocking of goodies this year.
Toys for tots
The Kinsmen Club of Lac La Biche partnered up with PetSmart in Edmonton to work on the Teddy Bear project to make sure that all of the children from preschool to Grade 3 receives a stuffed teddy bear for Christmas. Through this project, they were able to give 800 teddy bears to local kids.
Stromquist says that it truly has been a community effort when it comes to giving back this year. So many people from the region have come together to make sure that no one is forgotten this holiday season.