The Red Apple’s annual Christmas Toy Drive wrapped up Saturday (Dec. 11) as families stopped by the shop to see and take photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
For over two weeks prior to Saturday, people had the chance to stop by the store to buy gifts off the shelves and place them in a sleigh to be donated to the Salvation Army.
They had two sleighs worth of donations made by Saturday, said store manager Stacey Bickford.
“We have so much fun with this. And we love giving back. Philanthropy is great,” said Bickford, who has been manager at the Red Apple for four Christmasses now.
Ten per cent of all sales made on Saturday were also turned into cash donations to the Salvation Army to fill any other gift-giving needs they have. It was their second year doing that, Bickford said.
The Red Apple also added an extra kick to their gift giving initiatives this year, with a “Gift of Giving Tree.” The initiative involved bringing tags to seniors homes in Fernie and asking residents to fill them out with some information along with three Christmas wishes.
Customers would come to the Red Apple, take a tag, and fulfill one or all three of the wishes, Bickford said.
“Then we put it into a gift bag and we will be delivering it to all seniors homes after the toy drive is done.”
They did 86 tags for Rocky Mountain Village, 34 tags for Trinity Lodge, and 22 tags for Tom Uphill Manor.
It was the first year the Red Apple has done a “Gift of Giving Tree” drive, and “the response was amazing,” Bickford said.
Support came in from all over the Elk Valley.
“People from Grasmere, from Cranbrook, from Elkford, all came to get tags to make sure that not a single senior that we had tags for would go without this Christmas.
“It was so heartwarming.”
Mr. and Mrs. Claus were also present at the Red Apple on Saturday taking socially-distanced pictures with families.
Young Freya Hanke and her parents Scott Wannamaker and Brianne Beagley took a photo with the Clauses.
Hanke said she wanted Elsa hair and an Elsa dress and Anna hair and an Anna dress for Christmas, among some other things (referring to the popular Disney movie, Frozen.)
When asked by The Free Press if she loves Christmas, she said yes. She likes seeing Santa, she said.
“Because I like him and I like giving notes to him and reading everything else to him.”
Bickford said she was “really thankful” to everyone who donated gifts this year.
“People were so generous this year, and we know it’s been a rough year again with COVID. But people dug deep, and the people of Elk Valley have really made sure that nobody has been forgotten this year. And we’re so thankful for that.
“We couldn’t do it without them.”