Prospera Credit Union is once again coordinating gifts for disadvantaged youth through the Youth Angel Tree Project. Now in its seventh year, the Youth Angel Tree Project makes wishes come true for local youth.

Trees are set up at local Prospera branches featuring holiday wishes from over 100 youth. The names and wish lists are provided by the Youth Resource Centre (YRC) at Abbotsford Community Services. Residents are invited to stop by a branch and take a tag, purchase a new gift for the youth and bring it back unwrapped.

Simone Maassen, manager of youth services at ACS, says the holidays can be a stressful and depressing time for some young people.

“When they realize that someone in the community cares enough to buy them something they wanted, it reminds them they have value and there are good people out there, which often hasn’t been their experience.”

Some of the youth who benefit from this program come from single parent homes or are single parents themselves, are in foster care or have aged out of care and may not have a place to go at Christmas. Past gift requests have ranged from work boots, grocery store gift cards, clothes to books.

“The Angel Tree Program is something that Prospera staff and members look forward to each year,” said Steven Lang, Prospera’s Regional Director for the Fraser Valley. “We see the positive impact that the program has on both the youth and their parents within the community. Abbotsford is a great city and we want to help everyone become contributing citizens and grow our community’s resilience. By helping the youth, we hope to show them the good in others and inspire them to have a positive impact on those around them.”

Community members can select a youth and their wish list at one of the three Prospera branches in Abbotsford. Once the new and unwrapped gifts are brought back, Prospera staff wrap the gifts and youth workers at ACS deliver to the youth.

“It’s pretty stunning the effort Prospera puts into this event. They coordinate the gifts, check to make sure they’re equal and top them up if needed,” said Maassen. “Every detail down to the wrapping is just so thoughtful.”

Prospera also recently donated $10,000 towards youth programs at ACS for counselling services.“We’re so thankful for Prospera for being committed to consistently helping local youth year-round,” said Maassen.

Gifts are due back December 11 at the following participating Abbotsford branches: the Abbotsford branch at 34630 DeLair Rd., the West Oaks branch at 32700 South Fraser Way and the Clearbrook branch at 32071 South Fraser Way.

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