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Snapshots with Santa in Cochrane help children with cancer

Town's newest children's boutique to donate proceeds of Santa visits to Helping Families Handle Cancer

Taking photos with Santa this year will be extra meaningful as a new business in Cochrane has partnered with a charity in support of Alberta families with a child diagnosed with cancer. 

The town's newest children's boutique first opened its doors Oct. 1 and was at a loss when approached by Helping Families Handle Cancer (HFHC), a Cochrane-based grassroots charity. 

Four Cubs co-owner Jocelyn Kimmett said HFHC popped into the 5th Avenue shop in its infancy and asked about participating in a charity auction. 

"We were a week old at that point," Kimmett said. "We didn't know what we could do at that capacity, so we had to decline. But when we had the photos with Santa idea, we thought they'd be a good fit." 

The charity's executive director and founder Carie Stock said the proceeds of the photos with Santa will go toward Alberta families struggling to make ends meet while their children are undergoing cancer treatments. 

"Requests can range from rent, gas, groceries, a parking pass, medications, medical supplies and things that aren't covered in health-care plans," Stock said. 

Parking passes for hospitals, she said, are among the most requested items families need help with. 

Stock, who is a childhood cancer survivor herself, said she understands the unexpected costs associated with a cancer diagnosis. 

The holiday season, the Cochrane High graduate said, can be especially hard for families because on top of all the new medical costs, there's also the desire to ensure children have a merry Christmas. 

"People are already having a hard time meeting ends meet; expenses go up and income goes down," she said, noting due to time in hospital or medical appointments, many two-income households drop to one as a parent is likely forced to put their employment on hold. 

Like other charitable organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult to navigate, Stock said. 

"Fundraising has been a bit of a challenge because our usual fundraisers, we can't do them because they're public events," she said.

Instead, the 13-year-old not-for-profit had to adapt and move some fundraisers online, such as their online auction, and apply for grant funding to fill the gaps. 

"For charities (fundraising), it's very different. The need is up, the demand is up," Stock said. "Charities are needed the most when there's big social changes in the world, like the crash of 2008. That's when people give to charities the least and it's needed the most."

Stock said it's community partnerships with businesses and community events that help meet their $100,000 fundraising goal. 

"We are so excited to share the magic of Christmas with our community, while helping raise money for such an important cause," the co-founder of Four Cubs said. 

"We are honoured to have Santa joining us and can't wait to see the smiles on your little ones' faces." 

Time slots are filling up fast, Kimmet said Friday, Nov. 26, ahead of the Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 5-6 appointments. 

To book a Santa visit, call Four Cubs at 403-981-2945.





Caitlin Clow

About the Author: Caitlin Clow

Caitlin is the editor of the Okotoks Western Wheel and Cochrane Eagle. She graduated from Mount Royal's Journalism program in 2015 and has worked for The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, Postmedia and Black Press.
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