The generosity of the Energy City has kicked into high gear ahead of the holiday season, as evidenced by the annual Hillcrest Christmas Store.

Set up in the Hillcrest School, toys and items are donated by the community to be set up in a room to then be perused by the children there. They will pick out items out for someone in their own lives as a lesson in giving, in thinking of others instead of oneself. This year, due to the sheer volume of the stuff donated, kids were able to make the rounds 3 or four times and select additional gifts for those special to them. They are also assisted by 'elves', who are alongside to help them with the valuable lesson of giving.

Hailey Cretecio was among those shopping for a loved one, and she had solid grasp of the purpose of program.

"If kids don't really have money to buy stuff, then they set this up for kids to give to other people, but not to themselves, because Christmas is about caring and sharing."

"I think the kids really like it every year. They think ahead of time of who the person is that they will 'buy' for, and they are really proud of themselves for picking out something that they know their parent or grandparent will like," shared Sara Pippus, the Community Education Liaison at the school, who has been organizing the store for 7 years.

"This year is our biggest year yet. The community has always been very generous, and this has been another one of those ways that they have just shown up for us and really contributed to what we are doing here and the initiatives that we have."

She added that other schools in Estevan don't have such programs in place due to the fact that they don't have a specific staff member dedicated to coordinating such activities. However, she would love to see such a concept expand.

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