Give the gift of Christmas

For many people, frosty weather and Christmas advertisements inspire dreams of festive dinners, surprise gifts and family gatherings.

For many people, frosty weather and Christmas advertisements inspire dreams of festive dinners, favourite sweets, surprise gifts and family gatherings. The Christmas Bureau invites you to help fulfill some of those dreams for valley families whose budgets won’t stretch to allow for any extravagance.

The Christmas Bureau is a non-profit society of community volunteers who distribute Christmas food hampers to needy families and modest gifts to children 0 to 12 and seniors 65-plus. Teens 13 to 17 still in school receive gift vouchers for treats or activities.

You can assist with the project and boost your own Christmas spirit by anonymously sponsoring a food hamper or donating angel tree gifts.

Organize your family, friends, colleagues or club to assemble a hamper, then register your commitment by Friday, December 9, by calling Gail at 250-342-6752 or Helen at 250 342-6789. You can also email Gail at hw6789@telus.net. Your contact will assign you a number corresponding to the family with whom you are matched and issue a grocery list for a small, medium or large hamper, according to the size of the family.

The grocery list includes practical items like soup, peanut butter, coffee and vegetables and suggests extras like gravy mix, candies, Christmas baking and chocolate. Please, adhere closely to the suggested list, so that families of equal number receive similar sized hampers. If your group is very generous, consider sponsoring several hampers, rather than one that is out-sized. You will also be asked for a cash donation to enable the Christmas Bureau to issue a grocery store voucher for fresh food like meat or poultry.

Pack your groceries in small, easily carried, open cardboard boxes clearly marked with the family number assigned to you. Deliver them to the Invermere Community Hall on Tuesday, December 20 between 8 a.m. and noon.

Local shopkeepers help the Christmas Bureau organize angel gifts for children 0 to 12 and seniors 65 and over.  From November 26, The Bargain Shop (8th Avenue and 13th Street locations) will have an angel tree to collect gifts for seniors and children. From December 1, as part of their corporate Angels Anonymous program, Dairy Queen will put up a tree to collect gifts for children only.

Cards specifying the age, gender and gift request of a child or senior decorate the trees’ branches. To participate, choose a gift card from the tree, record your name and telephone number on the bottom part of the card, and leave it in a box in the store. Firmly tape the top portion of the card onto the wrapped gift, and return it to the store by Friday, December 16.

Gifts should be kept to the $25 to $30 range, so that they are similar in value to those received by other family members.

If you need a hamper or gifts to give your family a happy Christmas, pick up an application form at The Family Resource Centre, Columbia Valley Employment Centre, Invermere Public Health Unit, Canal Flats Headwater Centre, Shuswap Band Office or Akisqnuk Band Office. Alternately, telephone Gail at 250 342-6752. Complete the form and submit it, as directed, by the deadline of Monday, December 12.

On December 20, recipients must pick up their hampers, or arrange for them to be picked up, between 3 and 6 p.m. Volunteers will not be available for next day pick up or delivery.

For the 16th year, the Christmas Bureau of the Columbia Valley is confident that the Valley community will pull together to provide a merry Christmas for everyone from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen.

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