A friend recently told me how she felt after receiving aid from the Christmas Cheer Board several years ago. She recalled being surprised, but very grateful, that someone cared.
The food and presents in a hamper from the Cheer Board are tangible. But, it's the intangibles that perhaps mean just as much to those receiving support.
I read a book once where the author outlined the seven conditions of love. He said that people felt love when they were accepted, that they belonged; that they felt cared for, defended, supported, safe and special.
Receiving help from the Cheer Board seems to fulfil many, if not all, of those conditions.
The food feeds their stomachs. The gesture feeds their spirit.
"The fact that some one even cares is sort of strange to some of them," Cheer Board chief Kai Madsen said this week. "It might say to them 'Yeah, we do belong.'
"People on the fringe can feel that perhaps they are not alone."
Madsen and his crew of volunteers are already busy getting ready for the hamper campaign. A total of 19,609 hampers were presented last year and Madsen said he expects the number to be about the same this season.
Approximately 5,000 volunteers are involved with the Cheer Board campaign. From retired pensioners to busloads of school children. They also get to enjoy the fruits of the spirit.
"They also get to have that same sense of community as the people receiving the hampers," Madsen explains. "We all can feel more part of the community, the more we are involved with helping our community."
You can also share in that feeling.
Hamper deliveries will commence on Dec. 10. If you wish to help with the deliveries, you can contact the Cheer Board at 204-989-5680.
Here in the sports department, we are also looking to help with our annual Spirit of Christmas campaign.
According to our records, through our columns in the paper and your donations, we raised $135,583.01 last year. Thanks again for your generosity. I hope that you will feel moved to join us in the spirit again this year.
We will publish our first list of donations in next Saturday's paper.
Please send your donations to The Spirit of Christmas, c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, R2X 3B6.