Local youth can channel their inner Santa Claus at the Airdrie Children's Christmas Market on Dec. 11.
The annual market provides kids in Airdrie the opportunity to pick out a Christmas gift for each of their parents or guardians. The gifts do not need to be purchased, as they are donated or subsidized by local businesses and organizations.
This year's market will be held at the Living Springs Christian Fellowship on the west side of the city this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Organizer Kimberly Ann Rose said the initiative began in 2015 and has grown in popularity since then. She said the market, which is catered to youth ages four to 16 from families facing economic challenges, is an opportunity for young people who may not have money of their own to still find a great Christmas present for mom and dad.
“When I first started, you could always find gifts for your kids at Christmas [because] we have so many great organizations that come together to do that,” Rose said. “But there wasn’t anything for the kids to get their parents, and I just believe that it's important for the kids to be able to give, too. I know it’s hard for some of them to not have a gift to give to their parents.”
After cancelling the market in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Rose said she is excited to bring it back this year. As of press time, she said nearly 200 kids had signed up to participate this year. She added the market has previously seen as many as 400 youth take part.
Rose, who also moderates the well-known Airdrie Cares Facebook page, said interested participants can message her through either that page or her personal Facebook account to register.
“I think a lot of people still don’t know about it, even though we’ve been doing it for a few years,” she said. “I always try to get the word out about it.”
She added there will be a host of donated items for kids to peruse at the market, including clothing, jewellery, and other presents to place in their parents' stockings or under the tree this year. Volunteers will help the youngest kids pick out their gift, and then assist them in wrapping the present.
“There’s tons of stuff – gloves, hats, scarves, shaving stuff, bubble bath, jewellery; there are so many things,” she said.
The deadline to participate this year is Dec. 9, according to Rose. Due to the young age of many of the shoppers, vaccination against COVID-19 isn’t a requirement to take part, though she said all the volunteers at the event will be vaccinated with two doses.
Other safety measures include a 50-person capacity inside the church, as well as mandatory masking and social distancing protocols.