Steinbach Community Outreach is turning the classic chocolate advent calendar on its head this holiday season.

At this time of year, many children delight in the ritual of searching their cardboard calendars for the little chocolate squares specific to each day leading up to Christmas. 

(Photo credit: Steinbach Community Outreach)“That got us thinking,” comments Drop-in Centre Director Myra Gerbrandt, “why don't we do a reverse calendar where instead of getting something every day you are giving something every day?”

From December 1st to December 24th, users of Outreach’s "Reverse Advent Calendar" are prompted to set aside common household items such as packages of noodles, tubes of toothpaste, or sticks of deodorant. Then, sometime after Christmas, they are encouraged to bring those goods to the drop-in centre where they will be distributed among the guests.

“We find that, especially at Christmas time, people really want to give to not-for-profit organizations,” says Gerbrandt, “so we thought we would do something very tangible and practical that they can just follow.”

Rather than scouring a calendar for a particular piece of chocolate Gerbrandt says participants can go on a scavenger hunt of their own homes looking for specific cans of cream of mushroom soup.

The list, of course, is merely a helpful guideline and does not replace Outreach’s regular seasonal needs of warm jackets, boots, gloves, and blankets. However, Gerbrandt notes it also adds an element of fun.