How to help this holiday season

While some holiday enthusiasts have had their Christmas trees up and homes decorated for weeks now, this week generally marks the start of the season.

Starting on Friday (Dec. 1), you can crack the first door on your chocolate/beer/marijuana advent calendars (yes, that last one is apparently a thing this year) and start the countdown to the big day.

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Whistler is a picturesque place to celebrate the holidays — with all of the colourful lights, Christmas events and a general ongoing celebration of all things winter. But it can also be a particularly hard place for some people during this time of year.

For one, there are the workers who are pulling double shifts as the resort gets busier and the labour shortage continues. They will likely be working all through the holidays to serve the influx of visitors on vacation.

Then there’s the large contingent of Whistlerites from other countries — or even provinces — who are far from home and won’t be returning for the holidays. Particularly if it’s their first Christmas away or they haven’t yet established a strong friend group, the holidays can prompt a serious bout of homesickness.

Finally, there’s the contingent of locals who are having trouble making ends meet — a growing group, thanks to impossibly high rental rates. For those struggling with money, the holidays can cause huge amounts of extra stress, particularly if you have a family to consider. The price of gifts, decorations and Christmas dinner can be more than some can manage.

To that end, Whistler Community Services Society is ramping up its Christmas Hamper program right now. While the deadline to ask for help or make a contribution has technically passed, they say they’ll always help someone in need — or put donations to good use.

Some people also go into the holidays optimistic that they’ll make it work before realizing they could use a hand. As part of the program, WCSS collects wish lists for gifts from families and matches them with people or businesses that want to help give someone in the community a little boost. It also includes gift cards or items for Christmas dinner.

No names are exchanged; the program is completely anonymous — often important to people in a small town.

As we head into the holidays, it’s worth thinking of locals who are struggling in any capacity and offering whatever we can — warm words, a seat at the dinner table or a monetary donation. After all, giving is the whole reason behind the season.

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