The gift list for children from underprivileged Yukon families is long this season, with the current tally being roughly 1,250 items – anything from bath bombs to hockey helmets.
It’s not being checked by the big-boned man donning dusty red tights, but by those behind Share the Spirit campaign — the Whitehorse Firefighters Charitable Society.
Gifts and a turkey dinner, complete with all fixings, will be distributed to families across the territory, a change the charity made when it took the reins in 2016.
On Dec. 5, there were 504 children in need, said Nicholas O’Carroll, head organizer of the campaign.
And that number is expected to climb to roughly 550, he added, maybe 600.
The campaign needs all support it can get, but scores of sponsors, both big and small, have pulled together to hit the mark, notably Northwestel, but also Winterlong Brewing, which crafted a special draft for the occasion — a Belgian wit bier, infused with coriander and cardamom.
“A really thirst-quenching beer,” said Meghan Marjanovic, co-owner of the microbrewery.
“We really like what they’re doing and think it’s important to give back to our community,” she said. “There’s a lot of families in need this holiday season. People that just need a little extra help, so it’s a nice treat for them.”
The goal is to generate $500 to $1,000 for families this year, Marjanovic added, and to gradually increase that number each season as the charity is interested in creating an annual partnership.
The beer was put on tap on Dec. 4, and four kegs were sold to Wayfarer Oyster House and the Dirty Northern.
A portion of proceeds from growler and crowler sales will be given to the campaign.
It’s the second consecutive season funds have been raised by Winterlong. Last year, the microbrewery, along with Firebean Coffee Roasters and Klondike Kettle Corn, made gift baskets, donating all proceeds to the campaign.
Nearly $36,000 was raised for families in the territory in total last year, O’Carroll said.
“We’re not one of the big charitable societies of the city, so to have these small businesses come on board and work with us, we feel great for the future,” he said. “Our intention is to grow and help more people out and we want to grow alongside these businesses.”
Raising money is but one facet to pulling the job off, ensuring the donations are delivered another, a task spearheaded by volunteer firefighter associations across the Yukon.
“Without them doing the groundwork the day of the deliveries we wouldn’t be able to get to the families,” O’Carroll said.
Contact Julien Gignac at firstname.lastname@example.org