Judy Gray’s Mid-Island RE/MAX Realty team are helping connect local kids in need with willing ‘Secret Santas’ through their Angel Tree program. Residents are encouraged to help bring joy to Christmas mornings by picking up an angel from the tree at the local RE/MAX office,<tcxspan tcxhref="1091917" title="Call 109-1917 via 3CX"> 109-1917 </tcxspan>Peninsula Rd, (Andrew Bailey photo)

Judy Gray’s Mid-Island RE/MAX Realty team are helping connect local kids in need with willing ‘Secret Santas’ through their Angel Tree program. Residents are encouraged to help bring joy to Christmas mornings by picking up an angel from the tree at the local RE/MAX office, 109-1917 Peninsula Rd, (Andrew Bailey photo)

Holiday season wraps Ucluelet in giving spirit

Food Bank on the Edge Society’s Christmas Hamper program underway as COVID-19 increases need

The holiday season has wrapped the West Coast up tightly with care.

Ucluelet has decked its halls with boughs of giving as donations are well underway for the Food Bank on the Edge Society’s Christmas Hamper program with over half the $11,000 goal already raised.

The society’s executive director Cris Martin explained hampers depend solely on monetary donations as all the tidings within are purchased fresh and no donated food is included.

Hampers will be given out at the Seaplane Base Rec Hall in Ucluelet on Dec. 22 and some will be transported to Hitacu.The deadline to register for a hamper is Dec. 10 and anyone who needs a hamper, or knows somebody who does, is encouraged to reach out to the food bank society at 250-726-6909.

The Food Bank expects to dish out about 110 hampers to Ucluelet and Hitacu residents this year and will need to raise at least $11,000 to do so.

“I have a feeling that we might have a little more demand this year and that’s what we’re planning for,” Martin told the Westerly News. “The employment situation is a little bit different right now. We do know that there is a higher need. We have signed up more new clients in the last three months than we have since COVID started. Families are struggling. The higher cost of food is part of it, I’m sure everybody who’s been to the grocery store understands that that is happening…If we can help people feed their families, that’s what we’re in the business of doing.”

Each hamper is filled with all the cheer needed for a deliciously festive breakfast and dinner, including eggs, bacon, sausages, cheese, fruit, candies, nuts, turkey or chicken, vegetables and cranberry sauce.

“It’s all in there for a festive day,” Martin said.

Over $5,500 has been raised so far and Martin said she was not surprised to see the community’s support pouring in.

“It’s amazing. It’s astonishing,” she said. “I have faith in our community because this is what we always do. Our community members and our businesses always step up at this time of year and it’s a time of year where people feel good giving.”

The hamper program also includes presents for kids 16 and under thanks to an Angel Tree program organized by Judy Gray’s RE/MAX Mid-Island Realty team.

The Angel Tree is set up in the RE/MAX office at 1917 Peninsula Road and each angel on the tree represents a hamper family child that participants can become a ‘Secret Santa’ for.

Martin said there are about 54 angels on the tree so far.

Judy Gray told the Westerly her RE/MAX team has been hosting the Angel Tree for over 20 years.

“We love doing it. We do it to support the community and to guarantee there’s a present under the tree for all the children in our hamper families at Christmas,” Gray said. “It’s the right thing to do. We have to care for those that need our assistance. We have to support our community and make sure that everybody is well looked after and has as happy a Christmas as possible.”

Martin said the hampers brighten the spirits of families in need and ease the stress that comes with holiday budgets as they try to buy presents for their kids and keep up with their daily needs.

“Not everybody has everything they need. That’s the bottom line. Some of us are very lucky and very blessed to be able to afford the food that we afford, but for some families that doesn’t work. They need help making ends meet,” she said. “This is the meaningful stuff. This really brings meaning to the experience of Christmas. Whether you’re on the receiving end or the giving end, it brings that much more meaning to the experience.”

The Food Bank on the Edge will also be handing out free ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Trees’ this year in partnership with Greigh Tarling.

“We call them Charlie Brown Christmas Trees because they’re not perfect, they’re not voluptuous. They’re just little trees, but they’re Christmas trees,” she said, adding the program’s success is powered by generous community support and a wide range of volunteers and organizations.

“There’s a lot of agencies involved, we’re really happy with the networking we’ve developed over the years to help make the Christmas hampers a huge success,” she said.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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