Tearful smiles fill the days of December as volunteers build, then hand out, Christmas hampers.
“The tears of joy are all we need and it’s makes it all worth while,” said Gayle Ireland, West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund president.
The West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund gets into full swing Dec. 1, but volunteers need help.
“Cash is great because we can get more for our money,” said volunteer Sandy Prette, explaining the program purchases in bulk to get better deals.
Unwrapped gifts are also part of the hamper program. When parents come to pick up the hamper, they can select gifts suited for individual kids.
“We need presents for newborns up to 17-year-olds. Teenagers are the hardest to shop for,” she said, suggesting wallets, watches, monogram T-shirts, scarves and cosmetics are good teen gifts.
Those aged 12 to 17 also get gift cards while the younger kids get a gift from Santa.
Last year the hampers served 1,001 adults and 506 children.
“Every year we have more people requesting hampers. Many people out in the community just cannot afford it. Many people don’t want to ask for help but we are here for them,” said Prette who also volunteers with the food bank. “(Our clients) are so thankful to even have the hampers. They are something they wouldn’t normally get.”
Volunteers hope to have the bulk of donations by Dec. 16, but accept last minute donations. Hampers will be distributed on Dec. 17, 18 and 19.
Donations for the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund will be collected starting Dec. 1 the Goldstream Food Bank, 761 Station Ave., Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.