By: Rose Divecha

I can’t remember the last time I wanted something for Christmas. I mean really wanted something. It was probably around the age of 5 or 10 or even 21. I think I have become something of a cliché as I age, in that all I really want is to have my family together with my children nearby. But I am not so old as to forget that feeling of wanting and hoping and even sometimes being disappointed.  That’s why I think organizations such as CityKidz are so important.  Like many charitable groups in our city, they help families in need year round, but during the holiday season they collect, wrap and distribute gifts for over 4000 children in our community.

Although I had passed the warehouse on Burlington Street East many times, I was formally introduced to CityKidz last year, when a friend of a friend reached out to me and explained what they did.

“Can you spare one evening this month?” Leisa had texted. She was a group leader and needed ten volunteers to help wrap Christmas gifts for children. Being new to the neighbourhood she thought it might be a nice way for me to meet some people. I agreed to help but as the day approached I began to think of excuses to back out. I was tired and busy and would rather just get home to my couch.

“But you made a commitment.” my guilty conscience prodded me and so I bundled up and headed out into the cold evening air.

I entered the warehouse and was greeted by CityKidz staff, fellow volunteers and Christmas music. Long tables strewn with wrapping paper, scissors and bows, ran up and down the room evenly spaced beneath the fluorescent overhead lighting. In one corner, treats and coffee were offered in a show of appreciation and thanks. And all around the room were toys. Toys grouped according to age and gender. Toys that had been donated in the hopes of making a child’s Christmas morning a little bit brighter.

For the next two hours I wrapped and laughed and chatted with those around me and when our group had finished wrapping the stack of presents assigned to us, I indulged in a coffee and a holiday treat. I reveled in the feeling of satisfaction and the atmosphere of goodwill and realized, it is truly better to give than receive.