The holiday period is a time of joy for most. There are the concerts, the parties and the excitement of gifts under the tree.
For most. For others it can be a time of stress worrying about decent meals and where gifts might be coming from.
Smithers Community Services Association has been preparing and delivering hampers to those in need for may years with Anne Harfenest involved for about eight years.
This year Gone Hollywood has donated the space to assemble the boxes, and where people can give.
Harfenest says that the group services about 1,100 people. Around 350-400 hampers go out to the area from Witset to Telkwa. They go out to multi-generational families as well as single shut-ins.
“Some need a little extra, while others need a lot. Everyone has a home but in some cases, this means several generations jammed into one place. We tried for a few years to make up things for people who were homeless but found that around the Christmas period, many of these would find a place with someone to crash with,” she said.
In addition, she said that sometimes people have visitors and family members who come in for the holiday period and that can put a stress on family resources
Getting volunteers to help prepare and deliver the hampers has not been a problem. There are people who volunteer and sponsor to help with the hampers. Some companies ask to sponsor the biggest family in need, and some churches sponsor the same family year after year, without being identified as the donor.
Besides food, there are the gifts.
“The gifts are all new. We ask sponsors to give 25 dollars for example and that can be an evening out at the movies,” she said.
Some of the volunteers are those who also receive a hamper and they want to give something back.
“It’s a sense of dignity and we encourage that. There’s no special party for volunteers. It’s a busy time of year. We probably have between 70-80 volunteers who put hampers together if you don’t count school groups,” she said.
Regardless of which religion one might be part of, the sense of community and giving is what the Christmas period is all about and with people around like Harfenest and the Community Services Association, we can be assured that the spirit of Christmas will be close by.