The Richmond Christmas Fund is returning early this year to help low-income families celebrate the holidays.
Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives (RCRG), which runs the program, has implemented a new online registration system for residents who did not access the fund in 2019.
Submitted requests for support will be assessed virtually over Zoom for eligibility and when qualified residents are confirmed for the Christmas Fund, they will be given a date and time for November or December to pick up their selection of grocery vouchers, toys and gift cards.
Items will be determined by household size and composition.
One person can register on behalf of an entire family, but must provide picture ID, CareCards for all family members being registered with the fund, proof of Richmond residency and proof of enrollment in an approved government income assistance program, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Last year’s clients have been contacted and given instructions on how to receive help in 2020.
Ed Gavsie, president and CEO of RCRG, said RCRG is taking extra precautions by implementing new health and safety measures during COVID-19.
“Virtual registration is extremely important this year, so we can maintain physical distancing. And when clients come to pick up their items, we’ve taken steps to make the process as quick as possible, with limited contact,” said Gavsie.
The Christmas Fund is anticipating a busy year because of COVID-19 and a “financial shortfall” due to cancelled or scaled back fundraising activities, according to RCRG.
While the level of assistance, said Gavsie, won't be the same, they are hoping to still "provide something to everyone who needs it.”