Seventy households in Esquimalt and surrounding areas will have a hearty Christmas dinner, thanks to volunteers and local businesses.
With the annual Santa Claus parade and food drive cancelled due to public health orders, the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights committee members developed a new way to help those in need in the community and spread some Christmas cheer.
They rallied the business community and raised $4,600, which helped pay for a 15-pound turkey for most of the hampers, plus fresh vegetables, cranberry sauce, assorted cookies and gravy mix. Fairway Market provided much of the food, and vegetarian families were offered a gift card to Country Grocer in place of the turkey.
The goodies were bagged up and handed out in a safe, distanced event Dec. 16 by volunteers from Harbourview Church and the Celebration of Lights committee.
Mayor Barb Desjardins and Santa Claus were on hand to greet families, which made the night doubly exciting, said committee chair and Harbourview pastor Paul Bergman.
“This has been a weary year for many people and that weariness has really [had an effect] on many families, particularly those where family members lost work,” he said.
“Some of the young moms and dads came with their kids, who were jumping up and down when they saw Santa. That and the two bags of fresh groceries were enough of a push to say, ‘I can make it through to the new year. It was a splash of encouragement.”
The church also hosts a free produce market to help ensure low-income families eat healthy foods. For more information, visit harbourviewchurch.com or call 250-999-6332.