The Quesnel Good Cheer organization has been helping families in the community have a merry Christmas since 1957.
In its first year of operation, Good Cheer was able to provide food and toys to 50 families, and last year it helped over 700.
For many years the organization was based out of Maple Park Mall, where it would provide members of the community in need with food hampers and toys. However, decisions made by new owners to retrofit and update the mall meant Good Cheer would have to find a new home.
This caused a number of issues for the volunteer-based not-for-profit. One of the biggest was physically moving and storing all of the fixtures and donations from their previous space. This was made even harder due to the age and health of the group’s volunteers, says Good Cheer co-ordinator Dianne Greenwood.
“I’m basically one of the youngest ones, I’m 68 and our oldest volunteer just turned 90,” says Greenwood.
“We had to take all of this down. All the toys, all the shelving had to be taken down and put into a container. It was a big, big, big job, you know.”
After moving out of Maple Park Mall, Good Cheer held an executive meeting with its members to decide on the organization’s future. The group came to the conclusion that due to the advanced age of the majority of its volunteers, Good Cheer could no longer operate in the capacity it once had.
The decision was made to no longer offer food hampers, but to instead give out gift certificates, which can be used at Save-On Foods. They also chose to distribute toys to children 12 and under.
The move to gift certificates has been well received, says Greenwood.
“A lot of people really like the idea because they can go and pick out the food they want.”
Greenwood says this will likely be the last year she is able to run the organization due health issues that she and her husband are suffering from, but that Good Cheer will live on.
“Things are a bit up in the air,” says Greenwood, “but I am just one volunteer. It won’t die just because I leave. It might have new people running it, but it wont die.”
This year, the West Park Mall has provided the group with a place to set up, store donations and operate out of. The space is smaller than where the group was previously housed, but it suits the organization’s needs just fine.
Quesnel Good Cheer will be open in West Park Mall (beside Lensmasters) 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22 for individuals who wish to drop off a donation or sign up for a gift certificate.