Hamper program helps feed families through the Christmas season

Donations for the Christmas Hamper program are being taken now until Dec. 21.

It’s that time of year when most of us are busy thinking of getting ready for the Holiday season. There’s the special shopping trips, the parties, our favorite tunes and all that delicious food that will await us on the Christmas table.

Unfortunately, not all people are able to partake in any special meal or provide anything from Santa. Financial realities bite hardest at this time of year it seems.

Luckily, there are groups and individuals who are out there doing their best to ensure that those in need are able to enjoy a hearty meal with their family. One such group has been providing help for over 30 years and helps hundreds of needy families every year.

John Howard works with the Christmas Hamper sponsored by Smithers Community Services Association. This organization has been trying to make sure that as few people as possible will go hungry by providing goods that can be turned into a family feast.

“At the beginning of November we kind of look around and see where there might be a space and approach the people about using a facility,” said Howard.

A recent retiree, Howard was looking at jobs on the computer one day.

“I saw this one and applied. It’s kind of a neat thing to do. You get to meet all the volunteers and it makes you feel good. And the end product is great,” he said.

The basis of the different sized hampers tends to be canned and packaged goods.

“We get some fresh goods but we have to wait until the end. We have bread that is donated. We have mandarin oranges and vouchers for eggs and a chicken,” he said.

Fido the dog and Scruffy the cat are not forgotten since they are also a part of the family.

The space on Third Avenue at first seems full of apple boxes in a variety of stages of being filled. Howard explains that those are the best boxes for filling due to their strength.

A quick tour of the office space finds a variety of goods organized in a manner that will allow for putting the hampers together efficiently and with some individuality. In some hampers, there might be a need for low–salt goods while others might require food that is better for diabetics.

In addition to the food goods, each child under the age of 16 will receive a gift. These toys and books come from a variety of events as well as people who drop in with items they have purchased while doing their own family shopping.

Howard said that he was impressed with the people who come out to help.

“We have about 40 volunteers who come out to help. In this area there is no problem getting people to come out to help,” he said.

He also gets help from young students.

“Sometimes we get entire classes who come in to help out,” he said.

Of course, it comes down to getting the hampers out to those in need.

“Delivery day is a big one. We make out routes to deliver the boxes and then get it all moving,” he said.

Howard is a busy individual who plays hockey up to three mornings a week as well as his toil at with the hampers. Data on families and their needs has to be turned into labels which will go onto each hamper so that the needs of that family are addressed.

“It’s a huge organization and the generosity is just phenomenal,” he said.

Donations for the Christmas Hamper program can be dropped off at 3842 Third Avenue, Unit B (side door) by Thursday, Dec. 21. You can also phone (250) 877-9405 or email scsahampers@scsa.ca to arrange for pick-up earlier in the week.

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