On Saturday, Red Apple hosted their annual Fill A Sleigh toy drive and fundraiser. Paige Mueller/The Free Press

Christmas cheer for charity

Tis the season of giving in the Elk Valley, as we see the community band together and support those in need. Local organizations, community groups and businesses are launching fundraising campaigns heading into the holiday season and Red Apple has joined in the giving.

The Red Apple store was completely transformed on Saturday for the store’s annual Fill A Sleigh event. Bedazzled signs hung throughout the store, pointing towards a variety of fun, fundraising Christmas-themed stations.

At the back of the store, Santa sat on his throne, taking photos with youngsters, some of whom had their faces painted before heading back for their photo-op. There was also a table laden with baked goods and a sizeable silent auction. Outside, volunteers served up hotdogs and snacks.

This was all part of the Fill A Sleigh fundraising event, according to store manager Stacey Bickford.

“Fernie is very generous when it comes to helping their own community and for a lot of people, that is the first question they want to know – what charity are you supporting and does it stay local,” Bickford said. “We are very proud to say that it does stay 100 per cent local and Fernie is very open to generating generosity and kindness and supporting their community and it’s amazing to see.”

The proceeds from this year’s toy drive and fundraiser will go to Snow Valley Cheer, a community initiative to help spread Christmas cheer to those who may need a little extra.

Last year, the fundraiser raised $3,100. It was Bickford’s first year running the event and she said it was on a much smaller scale than the event this year.

“One of our staff members dressed up as the Grinch and we had a backdrop outside and her pony dressed up as the dog and we put reindeer antlers on it – it was fantastic. We had a bake sale last year as well and we had a BBQ.”

Bickford said that for this year, the goal was $4,000 but that she was sure they were going to “crush it.”

“This year we knew we wanted to go a little bigger,” she explained. The hard work of the Red Apple team and all the volunteers and donors paid off as the store managed to raise $5,432.

“We’ve definitely put our heart and soul into this,” Bickford said of the event. “It just makes us feel so good and it’s fantastic.”

On top of the toy drive and various chances to donate within the store, Bickford added that for every toy that was sold on Saturday, whether it was as a donation to the toy drive or not, Red Apple gave 10 per cent back to Snow Valley Cheer. “Our company is extremely generous when it comes to this. They love to do this,” Bickford said.

This isn’t the first time that Red Apple has partnered with Snow Valley Cheer. According to Bickford, they supported the charity at Thanksgiving as well.

“We chose to work with them on Thanksgiving which was their first ever time having someone support them for Thanksgiving and it went amazingly.”

After a successful event, she wanted to thank everyone who participated and say, “We’re just so grateful to everybody who took the time to donate.”

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Store manager Stacey Bickford was very festive for Fill A Sleigh. Paige Mueller/The Free Press

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