/Annual Christmas Challenge hits milestone in unforgettable year

Annual Christmas Challenge hits milestone in unforgettable year

By Darren Lum

After 25 years the need for the Haliburton County Home Builders Association’s Annual Christmas Challenge couldn’t be more relevant, as the community continues to endure the effects of the pandemic.

The challenge invites the public to donate and encourages businesses to collect the most items, whether it’s food or unwrapped toys for children and other assorted goods or gift cards for youth, which help fill the Christmas packages for people in need, as organized by the 4Cs in Haliburton, the Minden Community Food Centre and The Central Food Network in Highlands East.

HCHBA executive officer Aggie Tose said the need is greater this year than any other.
“Considering the financial challenges that this whole county is facing, yeah, it’s pretty bad this year. I know us in construction we’ve been very lucky and our people are still working. The teaching profession are still working and most of the retail stores, but they’ve cut staff. There’s all sorts of cuts everywhere so I just think this is a big year for people to step in and help if they can,” she said.
Call the home builders at (705)-457-6901 for more information and to book a pick up. They will take your donations and take them to the different food banks.

Tose has been part of the challenge since it started after she presented the idea to the home builders’ executive more than two dozen years ago. Over the years there have been greater cash donations made, which enables food banks added flexibility to purchase what is needed.  
Don’t forget the teenagers, Tose said.
“It’s wonderful and easy to buy for young people, like little ones. Sometimes it’s more of a challenge for the teenagers, but it’s still Christmas for them,” she said.

Generally, gift cards are suitable for youth.
She recommended gift cards from local spas so teens can pay for services, and local eateries close to the high school such as Subway, 241 Pizza or Head Lake Grill. A value of $15 is suggested.
Twenty-five years of existence represents the strength of the trades in the Highlands.
There is a community of businesses under the home builders’ banner and they are supported by the hard work of more than a thousand people, who appreciate the prosperity they have experienced here and this effort enables them to be able to give back.
“I think we’re pretty grateful to be able to continue this every year and be able to employ this many people and to be able to give back to the community that we’re all a part of,” she said.

With COVID-19 concerns, she said the Minden Community Food Centre will be organizing the donated items starting this weekend to ensure items have the chance to be quarantined for a time.
Her message to anyone wanting to donate in Minden is to get donations in before this weekend.
“And if not, certainly give the home builders phone number a call  and we can arrange for either a drop off or pick up somewhere,” she said.

The collected items on the weekend will be the first things given away. Anything donated after the weekend, but before the deadline  of Dec. 10 will be given later.
This does not apply to donations made in Haliburton and Wilberforce, she said. She encourages collections to be ready for pickup before the Dec. 10 due date.

Tose acknowledges the hardships the community is facing and how it could influence the number of donations that are made, but believes the Highlands residents will come through for their neighbours.
“I think it’s in the back of your mind, but I think we also know that we have an amazing community and those that can are going to step up and help,” she said.