As the holiday countdown begins, the Christmas Bureau is reporting need in the valley will likely match last year’s record highs.
“It’s just as much need as last year, and that was our big revelation last year, to see how needy the community was,” says organizer Gail Hoffmann. “That was the pivotal top year that we’ve ever had.”
Last year the group handed out 229 hampers of food and gifts, assembled and donated by individuals, businesses, clubs and other community groups. Hampers contain both perishable and non-perishable items, including daily staples and more holiday-specific items such as cranberry sauce.
This year Hoffmann says the group is again expecting to hand out about 230 hampers, which will be distributed from the Invermere Community Hall on December 20.
Hoffmann says the Bureau has distributed hampers to “every demographic” over the program’s past 15 years.
“It’s a low period of the year. You go from kids starting school — when you need to get everything for school, and have pictures and expenses — and then there’s Christmas,” she says. “I think it’s very hard on families, and very hard on young people.”
Seniors living on tight fixed incomes also receive a share of the hampers.
At the moment, Hoffmann says it looks like this year’s hamper requests are all covered, but the Bureau is still ready to sign up interested donors.
“This is just the first of December, and this is when people realize they got to the end of November and it doesn’t look so hot right now,” she says. “This is when more of them start to apply.”
To volunteer to assemble a hamper, call Hoffmann at 250-342-6752, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bureau is asking interested hamper-makers to confirm their commitments by December 9. Volunteers canmake small, medium or large hampers.
“The support in this valley is incredible,” adds Hoffmann, who says the community has also more than answered a call for volunteers to help with distribution, which was put out last month.
“We’ve had a lot of people volunteering, especially for carrying all those boxes,” she says. “There are 230 hampers, and each hamper will average five boxes. It’s a lot of boxes, but the Rockies are going to help us bring them in and take them out, and lots of able-bodied men have said, ‘hey, we’ll do it.'”
To help both volunteers and recipients with carrying, however, she asks goods be brought to the community hall in small, easy-to-carry cardboard boxes or reusable shopping bags.