Volunteer Paul Patrick makes room for more toys in the Goldstream Food Bank Christmas Hamper program’s toy room. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Volunteer Paul Patrick makes room for more toys in the Goldstream Food Bank Christmas Hamper program’s toy room. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Applications being accepted for Goldstream Food Bank’s Christmas Hamper Fund

Donations and toys needed

Rick Stiebel/News staff

The Christmas Hamper Society is looking for people to help them extend a helping hand to families in need during the holiday season.

This marks the first full year that the program is being officially administered by the food bank, noted Paul Patrick, vice-president of the Goldstream Food Bank’s Christmas Hamper program.

In the past, the Goldstream Food Bank would technically shut down for the month while volunteers with the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund Society would take over the site for the hamper program.

Having one bank account for the food bank and hamper society will help make administration easier, Patrick explained. “The need for food, toys and donations is always greatest at this time of year,” he said. “We need cash donations, non-perishable food items and toys. The greatest need for toys is for children six to 12 years of age.”

The number of hampers given out last year was down slightly from the previous year, but based on the number of applications received so far this year, they are preparing for an increase. On an average year, the Christmas Hamper Fund helps out 650 families, blended families and individuals. “The community and local businesses have always been amazing at helping those in need. Every donation, large or small, makes a difference. You have to see the reactions from the people receiving hampers to believe it.”

Long-time volunteer Karen Birtwistle, the toy room co-ordinator for the past five years, said the best way to donate is to drop by the Goldstream Food Bank between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, or between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturdays. You can also donate online at goldstreamfoodbank.islandwebhosting.com through the link to Canada Help.

“We ask people who need a hamper to register in advance at the food bank during regular hours,” Birtwistle said. “We’ll never turn anyone away.”

The Goldstream Food Bank is in the basement of the Prince Edward branch of the Royal Canadian Legion at 761 Station Ave. in Langford.

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