Finding a balance between making ends meet and bringing joy to families at Christmas can be challenging, especially in times of high inflation.
Santa Claus knows this and whispered in Dan Kroffat's ear that he and the elves can provide the gifts, but can't provide the trees.
Fortunately, Paul Clark has stepped forward to provide 50 trees for families in need from his quarter-section west of Cochrane.
Nominations are now being accepted at Cochrane Toyota (403-932-9900) until all 50 trees are gone.
Kroffat says high inflation is taking a toll on families.
"These are families that maybe would like to spend a little more money on the kids," says Kroffat. "This year they may not have bought a tree or maybe have just got by with whatever they've got. So Santa wanted to provide 50 trees through nomination, which is very important to these families."
He says they aren't competing with tree sales outlets because these are families who may not have otherwise been able to buy a tree.
There is one condition, though. Nominated families must confirm they can drop by The Station, 360 Railway St W., at noon on Dec. 9.
Many have rallied around the cause that accumulates with a special celebration that day. Members of the Cochrane Rotary Club will be cutting the trees, Mayor Jeff Genung will assist Santa as head elf, and local MP Blake Richards will be there to lend a hand. The Cochrane Public Library will be providing activities for the children. Eric Ruttle and Lauren Meister, of Cochrane Now, will be emceeing the event as the major media sponsor.
McDonald's is providing muffins and beverages, and MacKay's Ice Cream will be providing the families with gift certificates. The town is donating the use of The Station.
Clark, who is a member of the Cochrane Rotary Club, is no stranger to showing his Christmas spirit by donating pine and spruce trees. He says about 50 per cent of his land is treed.
"I've been supplying Christmas trees to a church in Banff for some time and their needs are pretty diminished, but I still have a lot of trees," says Clark. "I go for walks every day on my land and see all the Christmas trees there. I thought, gee, there must be a use for that.
"I read that there's been a 30 per cent increase in need for the food bank. I felt sorry for the people who have to make those choices of not buying a Christmas tree so they can buy food. This way we can supply both."
Kroffat says Santa is aware Stuff-A-Bus is happening that same day at Canadian Tire.
"He says that's a wonderful initiative," Kroffat says, "So in some ways, this is a collaborative day, and we look forward to it."
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