Strangers' stories cited as key to annual Regina Christmas wish list program

·2 min read
Members of the public have been donating personalized gifts to total strangers through the Regina Christmas Wish List program since 2008. (Shutterstock/margostock - image credit)
Members of the public have been donating personalized gifts to total strangers through the Regina Christmas Wish List program since 2008. (Shutterstock/margostock - image credit)

A Regina church is once again getting ready to make people's Christmas wishes come true through the actions of strangers.

Glen Elm Church of Christ has been organizing its annual Regina Christmas Wish List since 2008.

Non-profits in the city identify some of the impoverished and marginalized people they work with. Volunteers conduct interviews to learn about these individuals and families before turning the interviews into concise stories.

The church then posts their stories and Christmas wishes online, inviting the public to buy gift suggestions.

Gift purchases are left at the church, which works with local groups to get them to the people they are intended for.

Church minister Jason Bandura told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger that he believes it's the stories that move people to give.

"We like to think that it generates a sense of compassion throughout the city," he said.

"The reading of a story by another generates some connection, maybe makes us think about our own story and how we're not so different than the one who looks quite different at first glance."

Bandura said he has noticed over the last two years that more people are writing to say that they are "struggling to make ends meet," including seniors and single parents.

"I was surprised how many times I saw the phrase," he said. "And so that's led to a lot of requests that are so basic.

"I mean, who puts on their Christmas wish list that they want a gift card for a grocery store?"

LISTEN | Jason Bandura spoke about the program with Stefani Langenegger on The Morning Edition

The program's website says that, since its inception in 2008, nearly 2,400 stories have been posted and more than 6,000 personalized gifts have been given between local strangers.

There were more than 175 stories shared and nearly 500 personalized gifts given last year, it said.

This year, donors are being asked to deliver gifts to the church by 4 p.m. CST on Dec. 18.

More details about how the Regina Christmas Wish List works can be found online.

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