Anonymous benefactor set to deliver double dose of Cheer


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Somewhere in Winnipeg, there is a special person who wants to help you assist the Christmas Cheer Board.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2020 (715 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Somewhere in Winnipeg, there is a special person who wants to help you assist the Christmas Cheer Board.

Sure, there are many who want to help — and the Cheer Board needs the help of everyone who can this year — but you could say this special person, unlike the Grinch, already has a three-sizes larger heart.

They’re like the many friends George Bailey has in It’s a Wonderful Life who come forward to help him cover the loss of a bank deposit that disappeared. They’re like Scrooge after being visited by all the ghosts of Christmas.

This is a person who already knows the true meaning of Christmas.

You see, this special person is an anonymous donor and, through the Winnipeg Free Press annual Miracle on Mountain campaign, they want to help it to help you to help the Cheer Board help all the people it supports this time of year.

And that’s great news for everyone.

Kai Madsen, Cheer Board chief elf, said while he can’t say the exact dollar figure at this time, he can say the donor will match every individual donation made by Free Press readers to the Miracle campaign to the tune of “several tens of thousands of dollars.”

Madsen said the donor made it clear corporate donations won’t be matched, but the ones from individuals will: dollar-for-dollar.

That means if you want to send a tax deductible donation of $50 via Miracle on Mountain, the Cheer Board will magically receive $100. If you’re a child and you’ve been collecting nickels, dimes and quarters, that change will also multiply by two.

The dollars you send in will multiply like the rabbits we see running across lawns or back alleys, but instead of ruining gardens all of these multiplying dollars will help the people who most need our assistance this Christmas season.

It comes at a good time. While the Cheer Board has been helping the people who would have a bleak holiday season without it for more than a century, this year, it especially needs help.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, and it has been no different with the Cheer Board. Usually, the charity’s warehouse is bustling with activity at this time, with students filling food hampers with non-perishable food and tossing a turkey in at the end; at the front door, people would be coming in to register for a hamper, if they qualify.

This year, there are few people at the warehouse, physically distanced and taking calls from people who need help this year. There are no food hampers being filled because of pandemic concerns; people will instead receive food vouchers in the mail.

Where in normal years a large percentage of the food in the hampers is donated, this year, the Cheer Board has to completely cover the cost for the vouchers.

“We’ve already ordered $700,000 worth of vouchers, and we’ll be putting in another order next week,” Madsen said. “We’re going out on a limb this year.”

Like a last-minute shopper looking for a present, Madsen said the Cheer Boards fears many who qualify for the food vouchers are also leaving things late. He feels there will be around 16,000 requests for the vouchers, but only about 10,000 have come forward so far.

“If you qualify — or even if you think you qualify — please call us,” he said, noting because of the expected surge, it has decided to keep its phone lines running until Dec. 23 (instead of Dec. 15).

If you want to help the Cheer Board, please don’t be a last-minute shopper. To make a real miracle on mountain, you need to make a donation now.

Thanks to you and the anonymous donor, it will be a double miracle, and perhaps you’ll feel your heart grow three sizes, too.


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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