The Food Bank on the Edge Society’s executive director Cris Martin is stoked to help share the community’s giving spirit with those who need it this holiday season. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Christmas Hamper programs spread neighbourly love over Tofino and Ucluelet

“We are so very grateful for the continued support from all of you.”

The Food Bank on the Edge Society is decking the West Coast with boughs of donations in an effort to bring happy holidays to all Ucluelet and surrounding First Nation families.

“The holidays are a special time of year and it is important to remember that not everyone gets to have all they want for Christmas…We are most proud that we can offer a substantial hamper to eligible families in our community,” said the society’s executive director Cris Martin.

“If folks want to feel the holiday spirit, feel the warmth that comes with ensuring that everyone has a festive and filling day of food and generally share in the chaos and laughter of Christmas celebrations, then this event is for you.”

She said the Food Bank is currently putting together Christmas Hampers that include everything needed for “a big family breakfast” including bacon, eggs, sausages, cheese, juice, and pancake mix, syrup, margarine and bread, as well as a classic holiday dinner with turkey, stuffing, fresh vegetables, potatoes, cranberry sauce, tea and coffee, dessert and treats like mandarin oranges, chocolate and nuts.

She added everything is purchased fresh for the hampers so the best donations this time of year are either cash or gift cards

“In addition, we have asked the community to help us give a new pair of socks to our clients, any kind of winter clothing that can be donated right now is really helpful as well,” she said.

The society is also colloborating with the Ucluelet RCMP for the local detachment’s annual Stuff the Cruiser event, scheduled for Dec. 16, where a police vehicle will be parked outside the Ucluelet Co-op and filled full of generous neighbourly love.

“We will have ‘shopping lists’ if you want to shop for the Food Bank, lots of gift cards to purchase and holiday refreshments,” Martin said. “You don’t want to miss this.”

She added the District of Ucluelet is a key source of support for the program as are local businesses including, RE/MAX, CIBC, the BC Liquor Store, Tofino Soap Company, the Co-op, Far West Foods, the Ucluelet Campground and Pina Styles.

“The Christmas Hamper isn’t about a few volunteers showing up to box up some food. It is a community-wide effort and we couldn’t do it without our excellent volunteers and generous contributors,” she said. “I want to say, in advance, ‘Thank you,’ to everyone: businesses and members of the community, who continue to rely on us to make their donations count,” she said. “We are so very grateful for the continued support from all of you.”

St. Francis of Assisi spreading love through Tofino

A local church is collecting good tidings from Tofino to help spread holiday cheer to those who need a hand this season.

Donations are pouring into St. Francis of Assisi Church, where Christmas Hampers are being put together and distributed to families in Tofino as well as surrounding first Nation communities.

The church hands out over 100 hampers each year, which include turkeys along with festive trimmings, like vegetables, mandarin oranges, potatoes and bread, according to Sister Anita Tavera, who organizes the program along with Sisters Laura and Margaret.

“Many years ago, when we moved to Tofino, there was some people that were getting left out at Christmastime and, because we are adjacent to the school, we noticed that some of the children were in need,” Tavera said. “We thought, our church should start doing something.”

The sisters launched the Christmas Hamper program roughly 35 years ago and, in an effort to fund it while also infusing merriment into town, they began hosting an annual Christmas Bazaar fundraiser 29 years ago. That Bazaar was cancelled this year, but the nuns still wanted to distribute hampers, so they reached out to the community for support.

“We sought the community, businesses and friends who had helped us in the past with our hamper program and we have gotten lots of really positive response so we’re going to be able to do it again this year,” Tavera said. “It’s amazing, Tofino people are just so, so, generous. Over and above the call of duty. They just respond. They are generous, generous people. We have a really loving, caring community here in Tofino. You find that for anything that happens in town; somebody is in need and Tofino responds immediately. It’s a really generous community and we’re so grateful to be here.”

She added that some of the program’s biggest supporters are past recipients.

“We’ve had people who’ve come to the door and then, the next year, they’ll say, ‘We don’t need a Christmas Hamper this year, but here’s some money for you to help with those who do need it.’ Some people have a hard time one Christmas and next Christmas they’re okay,” she said.

Anyone wishing to support the Christmas Hamper program can bring donations to 441 Main Street or PO Box 180 in Tofino. All donations are eligible for a tax receipt from the church.

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