Christmas Hamper Campaign calls on community

The head elves at Jeffery Hale Community Services are preparing for their 12th annual Community Christmas Hamper Campaign. Their objective: to raise $17,000.

Hamper Campaign chief Marilyn Baxter said that the number of families and individuals who either receive food hampers or coupons has remained steady at just over 200.

“Many who receive a hamper are affiliated with a church – they could be anglophone, francophone or allophone, but they’re all linked to our community organizations,” she explained.

Letters to the many volunteers have been sent. The 2007 campaign dates are a little later than usual.

“We’re delivering the hampers on December 22 this year,” she added. “That’s a little closer to Christmas, but hopefully we’ll get lots of volunteers anyway. We’re getting calls.”

This year there will be no toys accompanying the food. For the past two years, Reverend George MacDonald had taken up the challenging task of collecting toys through the Snowflake Campaign.

“It’s a shame that we can’t do [the toy drive], but we’re really disappointed. Before he’d taken it on, the quality of gifts we’d been able to give wasn’t uniform. It was a lot of work to co-ordinate. We’re going to let it drop and focus on the food,” explained Baxter.

In addition to financial donations, the Christmas Hamper Campaign collects non-perishable items at various spots around town.

“Check the QCT’s Wellness or VEQ page for the standard hamper list,” she said. Funds help purchase meats and vegetables for the hampers. “The idea behind this is to purchase [the fixings for] a nice Christmas dinner, with the donations it makes the hampers quite nice.” Donations will be chronicled in this paper and donors’ names will be published. “That’s been a really controversial thing,” admitted Baxter. “Some people don’t agree with it, but at the same time, it has raised our funds. We respect your anonymity,” she said. People who do not wish to be part of the list will be respected.

“It gives some people a chance to show that they’ve donated something and it encourages others. We appreciate the space that is donated by the QCT every year so we can do that,” she said.

Baxter offered some ideas on how to encourage donations. “At Ste-Foy Elementary we send home a brown grocery bag with a wish list on it. People can challenge each other in their organizations. [At the Jeff] we do an auction. We raised $400 last year. We do 50/50 draws and a bake sale. High schools use sports tournaments and ask people to bring a can of food.”