Throughout the pandemic, various groups of people have, quite rightfully, been portrayed as heroes. Healthcare workers, grocery store employees, delivery drivers: they deserved praise back in March and April, and they deserve it just as much now, as they continue to show incredible courage on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
As the holiday season approaches, we’d like to add another group to this list of heroes: Richmond Christmas Fund volunteers.
Over the next month, the Christmas Fund will distribute toys, grocery vouchers, and gift cards to hundreds of families who would otherwise be unable to afford a holiday celebration. The program will run very differently this year, with a host of health and safety measures in place. But it will run, and for that, we have our volunteers to thank.
Their work began in the summer, when they called over 2,000 clients, one-by-one, and registered them over the phone. Throughout October, volunteers registered additional families, this time conducting eligibility assessments via Zoom.
In early November, volunteers helped set up the Christmas Fund Toy Room, and as you read this, they’re preparing bags of toys - each one individually packaged - for Christmas Fund families.
As new toy donations arrive, volunteers will sort and prepare them for distribution. And when clients come to pick up their items, our volunteers will be there, donning PPE but smiling under their masks. From a safe distance, volunteers will make the final hand-off, providing families with grocery vouchers, toys, and gift cards, so in this year to forget, they can have a holiday celebration to remember.
In a normal year, we might refer to Christmas Fund volunteers as elves or Santa’s helpers. They’re doing important work, and having a huge impact on their community, but there’s a light-hearted element to it all. It’s fun being part of Santa’s team.
2020 is different. There’s an underlying anxiety that all Christmas Fund volunteers feel, even if they don’t admit it. But they’re here anyway, doing what they can to help their neighbours in need, in the midst of a global pandemic.
So this year, they’re not merely elves or Santa’s helpers. To us, they’re heroes.