Enjoying a hot holiday dinner with gifts under the tree isn’t always attainable for many people on the West Shore.
“There is a terrific need in the Western Communities, it’s not always visible to most of us,” said Gayle Ireland, president of the West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund. We get all sorts of mixes (collecting hampers) from singles to large families.”
The West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund prepares more than 650 hampers each year for families and individuals.
When parents pick up their hampers they visit a special toy room and “shop” for the perfect gift for their children.
“Barbies are great for the kids and so are big trucks and graters,” said Paul Patrick, hamper fund treasurer. “Family games are also always welcome.”
Children over 12 get a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart.
To make the hampers a success volunteers like Patrick ask people to donate new toys for children aged newborn to 11.
“It’s important that people help out. We have to understand people are going through a tough time,” Patrick said. “My favourite part is watching the mother’s go through the toy room and them being able to select a gift for their child.”
Aside from toys for the children, each hamper holds the makings of a holiday dinner, including a gift card to purchase a turkey. Volunteers are asking for gift cards to grocery stores spanning from $25 to $40.
Patrick has volunteered with the hamper fund for years.
“I just love it, it’s enjoyable to do,” he said. “Our baskets are teeming with food and we pride ourselves on that.”
The hamper fund also accepts cash. All donated funds will be used towards purchasing food, gift cards or toys.
“Cash is great, it’s perfect we can do more with it and we give tax receipts,” Patrick said.
Donation deadline is Dec. 15. Hampers are picked up Dec. 16 through to 20.
The West Shore Christmas Hamper Fund location, 761 Station Ave. basement, opens Dec. 1. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.