The Christmas season is a giving season.
Locals are urged to help the Food Bank on the Edge Society ensure all West Coasters enjoy a happy holiday season by donating to this year’s Christmas Hamper program.
Ucluelet Coun. Sally Mole said the need for Christmas Hampers is ample.
“You always hope that it’s going to decrease but somehow we haven’t quite got that far,” she said.
She said the Food Bank is focused on monetary donations this time of year as the society purchases specific and fresh items for each Christmas Hamper.
“Right now we’re all about cold hard cash because our Christmas hampers are pretty special,” she said. “Cash is really what we’re looking for, I know it sounds a bit harsh but the reality is that’s what we need.”
The Food Bank on the Edge Society’s executive director Cris Martin agreed.
“Unlike the rest of the year, at Christmastime we buy all of the food for the hampers so that the recipients have a lovely holiday breakfast and dinner,” she said.
“We really go all out to make sure our clients have a festive and delicious assortment of food and gifts.”
The society is hoping to dish out 95 hampers—filled with everything from turkeys, hams and vegetables, to bacon, eggs, and pancake mix—on Dec. 22 and will start earmarking donations this month to ensure costs are covered, according to Martin.
“The Ucluelet Campground graciously lets us use their sign on Peninsula Road to post the progress of the hamper program,” Martin said.
“We will begin the countdown tally at the beginning of December so that our community knows just how far along we are. This will be the third year we have used the sign and I think it is a very concrete message that keeps people aware of our progress.”
She is confident the community will keep the tally humming.
“I have been participating in the Christmas Hamper program for five years and it never ceases to amaze me how generous and thoughtful our community is,” she said.
“The citizens of Ucluelet always step up to the challenge to help out the folks who need a little extra help.”
Registration for those needing a hamper begins on Nov. 24 and Martin added the Food Bank also receives referrals from the Westcoast Community Resources Society (WCRS) and the Ucluelet First Nation, according to Martin.
She said the WCRS collects information about youth whose families will be receiving a hamper to ensure gifts and toys are included and the local RE/MAX office helps collect and distribute these toys through its Angel Tree program.
Martin added the BC Liquor Store donates teddy bears to the hamper program each year.
“As you can see, the Christmas Hamper program is a collective effort from many aspects of the community,” she said. “It draws our community together in the spirit of giving.”
She added hampers are picked up or delivered on Dec. 22 with help from Far West Foods, local RCMP, and volunteers.
The RCMP is also planning the return of its ‘Stuff the Cruiser’ event in the Ucluelet Co-op’s parking lot on Dec. 12.
“The amount of food, toys and money collected last year was unprecedented,” Martin said adding she is consistently proud of her community during the Christmas Hamper season.
“The giving spirit is alive and well in Ukee and the feeling that it generates is infectious and heart-warming,” she said. “Everybody has lots of fun and I just can't tell you how much it means to us at the Food Bank to know that we are making a difference in the lives of our clients.”
While monetary donations top the Food Bank’s needs-list, Mole suggested socks, bedding and mens’ clothing are also key priority items.