2019 has been a difficult year for many in Alberta but this Christmas season there are many angels among us who are reaching out to make things a little easier for all.
For some families, this coming week will bring a wealth of laughter, joy and bonding time together. The magic of Christmas will be reflected in belt-breaking dinners, late nights having heart-to-hearts with those you cherish and early mornings with your gaggle of excited kids waiting to open stockings and presents.
For others, the Christmas season can be long and lonely. It isn't always an easy time of year: perhaps it brings memories of heartache and lost loved ones, or perhaps your personal circumstances or tight budget prevent you from celebrating the way you would like to. Perhaps you are battling depression or struggling to make ends meet.
One of the many wonderful things about St. Albert at any time of the year is how deeply many of our residents care about those of us suffering through such situations. It is for the sake of those in our community who are struggling that many St. Albertans spend their free time giving back in myriad different ways, and this holiday season is no exception.
The next week is chock full of free Christmas-themed events. Feasts and entertainment abound as those with Christmas spirit to spare share the joy. If you have little ones who love to sing, you can drop by the library this morning for a Christmas carol sing-along at 11 a.m., or take them caroling at one of the many church events happening Christmas Eve. Tonight, you can take them on a tour of the brilliant light displays along the cul-de-sac at Elliot Place, just north of the Sturgeon Hospital – an effort not only to spread holiday cheer but also to collect donations for the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village. If you're on your own this year, you can head over to LB's Pub for a concert fundraiser by local rockers 69 AVE.
Our generous community members haven't forgotten about food and other entertainment, either. The Jr. B Merchants are inviting families who are on a tight budget to contact director Rick Dory for complimentary admission to Sunday's hockey game. It's the last collection date for the Merchants who are gathering donations for the Stollery in honour and remembrance of young Jenna Marko, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer.
And on Christmas Day, Victory Life Church is opening its doors for a free drop-in, buffet-style meal between 1 and 4 p.m., followed by games and socializing.
This list is by no means exhaustive. The outpouring of love and support from our neighbours could fill the pages of this paper, and indeed has filled many of them. Their hearts and arms are waiting to embrace you this Christmas season. We are blessed to have them amongst us.