The staff of Northern Lights Casino is overseeing a different kind of winning this holiday season.
© Herald photo by Mara Selanders
Shondelle Munro poses at the Prince Albert Food Bank with an assortment of gifts, each adorned with an angel.
By Mara Selanders
In just over two weeks, the Tree of Angels campaign saw the staff collect and wrap more than 300 Christmas gifts and begin passing them along to children in need through the Prince Albert Food Bank.
Shondelle Munro, along with her colleagues Cynthia Ross, Leah Taypohtat and Alicia Stevens head the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Volunteerism committee at the casino.
When deciding what to do for the winter season, the thought of the many Prince Albert children having to go without Christmas presents came to mind.
“Children are untouched yet by biases or negativity, so it just popped into my head. They’re our little angels and they’re our future,” Munro said.
“Plus the people making the presents happen are angels too.”
With only about a month to go until Christmas, Munro was unsure of whether or not the committee could bring enough gifts together.
The casino newsletter changed everything.
“That’s where the really miraculous part comes in,” Munro said.
All it took was a “cry for help” on the front page, and the presents came in droves. Munro attributes the response to a rare selflessness in the casino employees.
“I don’t know how they managed to find 400 and some staff with the biggest hearts in P.A. and put them all in one building,” she said.
Food Bank manager Kerry Ramstell said they were approached by the casino, and worked together with them to determine the demographic of the children. Gifts are suitable for ages from infant to teen.
They are being distributed with food hampers, and are tailored to each family.
“When people come in we ask them how many kids they have, boys or girls, and ask what their ages are.” Ramstell said.
Any leftover gifts will be handed out at the community supper at the Food Bank on Dec. 23. Anyone still hoping to donate is welcome to do so.
Motivated by the turnout from this year, Munro plans to start earlier next year. She is confident that more time will make Tree of Angels even more successful.
“It really took on a life of its own,” she said, laughing.
“I’m so proud of everybody, and so touched by their generosity.”