Volunteers Jenna Taylor, left, Tara Feindel, Mason Bennett and Volunteer Nanaimo executive director Rita Innamorati are prepping for the holidays and the Christmas Angels program. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Volunteers Jenna Taylor, left, Tara Feindel, Mason Bennett and Volunteer Nanaimo executive director Rita Innamorati are prepping for the holidays and the Christmas Angels program. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Donations sought to help Nanaimo Christmas Angels program take flight

Volunteer Nanaimo to hold craft fair Nov. 20 to assist with Christmas Angel effort

With the holidays approaching, a Nanaimo non-profit is putting things in place to allow its Christmas Angels program to take flight.

Volunteer Nanaimo’s program collects money donations and items for gift hampers for people who are less fortunate and things are about to ramp up with December approaching, according to Rita Innamorati, executive director. The program is looking for more businesses and individuals to “adopt” gift recpients, she said, and people can donate smaller items as well.

“We do teen stockings and we try to put in, if we have, $10 gift cards … so they can get lunch or dinner, small grocery cards so they can pick up a few things to make those meals,” said Innamorati. “Dollar store gift cards are great because they can get anything there. Drug store, same thing. Small gift cards, gifts of shampoo, umbrellas, things like that.”

There have also been requests for items that will keep people warm.

“We’re getting asked for heaters because hydro’s expensive, or gas or oil, whatever it is they’re heating their house with, so they’re asking for warm pyjamas, slippers and blankets because the domicile is cold,” Innamorati said. “You have to make tough choices … you can give up food or you can give up heat, which is really sad when you think of kids having to be cold.”

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the program’s participation numbers in 2020, and Innamorati anticipates continued need in 2021.

“The need just accelerates every year, this year probably more than last year,” said Innamorati. “Last year [Canadian Emergency Response Benefit money] played a big part in helping families, so there were a lot of families that were getting extra funds and this year with CERB being cut back … we’re really seeing the numbers coming up. Numbers are higher already for us.”

Volunteer Nanaimo will also hold a craft fair to aid with the effort on Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Loyal Order of Moose Lounge at 1356 Cranberry Rd. from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

“We don’t set any kind of parameters on our angels,” said Innamorati. “There’s no minimum to spend. We don’t say, ‘You have to spend $100 on a person.’ It’s whatever they want to do, however they want to help.”

Whether people need assistance or want to contribute, more information is available at www.volunteernanaimo.ca or by calling 250-758-7121.

READ ALSO: City sees $2.5 million to aid with homelessness response



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