The donation drive has begun for the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper program, a community effort to serve the needs of local families and residents who might otherwise go without during the holiday season.
Now in its 24th year, the program relies on the support of residents, businesses, churches and schools in Cloverdale.
The non-denominational program is coordinated and run through Pacific Community Church, home to the Cloverdale Community Kitchen.
Schools are among the largest contributors of food donations. This year’s campaign has re-ignited a good-natured rivalry between Clayton Heights Secondary and Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, says program lead Cheryl Blake.
“I heard Clayton Heights is not going to go down in flames!” laughs Blake.
Organizers are gearing up for at least as many recipients as last year, when nearly 300 hampers helped more than 600 people, and represented 50,000 pounds of food.
Hampers are filled with staple food items and non-perishables, and are invited to pick up a toy or gift for their children and teenagers.
Recipients are also given grocery store gift cards, enabling them to purchase a turkey or ham, so they have all the fixings for a holiday meal.
Blake is encouraging businesses to forgo their annual Christmas party and instead donate what they would have spent on a celebration to the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program – a gesture that will help people in their community.
Hundreds of donation boxes have been placed at locations throughout the community. You’ll find them at stores, schools and businesses, thanks to the tireless volunteers from the Surrey Association for Community Living.
Donation suggestions include non-perishable food items, gift and grocery cards, toiletries and personal care items.
Gifts for teenagers and boys aged 8 to 12 are always in need.
“Everybody likes to buy a doll for a little girl,” says Blake, adding, “Teenagers are hard to buy for” too. She suggests people think about what they would put in their own teenager’s stocking.
Hamper pick up day is Saturday, Dec. 19 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
The week leading up to that, the warehouse at Pacific Community Church acts as a nerve centre and assembly line, as volunteers sort donations and assemble hundreds of hampers.
The program was founded by Jacob Schuurman and his wife Ida, who ran the program for 17 years.
Kevin and Trish Lunder acted as program leads for the last four years.
“I want to be involved,” says Blake, who works for Community Living B.C. and has seen “the tremendous impact” Pacific Community Church and the Cloverdale Community Kitchen has had on the community.
“It’s the opportunity for people to give where they live. It’s their friends and neighbours and their children’s friends at school that are going to benefit.”
The program provides low income and struggling Cloverdale area residents with hampers at Christmas, serving residents in the following boundaries: between 80 Avenue and 40 Avenue (North-south), and from 196 Street to 164 Street (east-west).
Application deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Apply in person Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pacific Community Church office 5337 180 Street (bring ID, proof of address and CareCard, and CareCards of each person included in the application).
For further information about donations, volunteering, or applications, visit www.cloverdalechristmashamper.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 604-574-4001 ext 107.