Manitoba

Christmas Cheer Board launches 2019 campaign, marking 100 years of giving in Winnipeg

Winnipeg's Christmas Cheer Board launched its 2019 campaign on Tuesday, aiming to once again supply people with hampers filled with gifts and other items — a mission the charity began a century ago.

The Christmas Cheer Board donated to 17,106 families in Winnipeg last year

Kai Madsen, executive director of the Christmas Cheer Board, officially launched the non-profit's 2019 food drive and hamper campaign on Tuesday. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

Winnipeg's Christmas Cheer Board launched its 2019 campaign on Tuesday, aiming to once again supply people with hampers filled with gifts and other items — a mission the charity began a century ago.

"We're doing a task here that we feel strongly about, and we think is the right thing to do," said Christmas Cheer Board executive director Kai Madsen, who has been with the non-profit for 50 of its 100 years.

The cheer board was started in 1919 by a number of Winnipeg churches with the intent of providing Christmas hampers and toys for the widows and orphans of the soldiers lost during the First World War.

This year, the cheer board will be distributing 53,000 grocery bags on Nov. 28. People can fill the bags with donations and drop them off at Sobeys, Safeway or IGA locations.

The cheer board would also accept monetary donations, Madsen said, noting that the non-profit buys half the items it distributes.

"We're still looking to raise additional money so we can pay the bills," he said. "We make a commitment to buy these things back in July and August, so we don't have much choice."

Last year, the Christmas Cheer Board donated to 17,106 families in Winnipeg, many of whom are kids, Madsen said.

"That's our focus, to make sure that kids are able to enjoy a nice, warm, caring Christmas," he said.

Madsen said the group's volunteers numbers are good for now, but the cheer board will need extra help to deliver the Christmas hampers when the time comes. He figures more volunteers will be needed within the next week or two.

"It doesn't have to be a whole day," he said. "You can go shopping in the morning, and we have our delivery set up in such a way that you can do a two- or three-hour jaunt of half a dozen hampers."

You can make a donation or sign up to volunteer through the Christmas Cheer Board's website.

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