For eighteen years, Community Connections Revelstoke has run its Christmas Hamper Program. Held in conjunction with the Revelstoke Food Bank, the Christmas Hamper is about more than food. It’s about the spirit of community and giving.
The Hampers are created before Christmas, an estimated 200 of them, to be given to families and people within the community. “We buy a lot of the food upfront, because of the time constraints of creating the hampers,” says Patti Larson. “We want them packed before Christmas. The hampers contain food and extras like gifts, clothing and personal hygiene supplies.”
Items collected around town over the season are utilized, including the presents purchased for children from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Angel Tree, the items and toys from the Red Apple Toy Drive, the donations from TD Canada Trust and the Royal Bank this year in the form of new socks, underwear and pajamas. The Revelstoke Credit Union and the Seniors Association provide sponsorship for our senior group.
A large group of people from the community, including families and seniors, utilize the hamper program. There are also those with disabilities, home owners who had unexpected expenses, people working two or more jobs and who still can’t make ends meet. It’s people you know and love, and many you may not expect.
“Christmas is a tough time of year,” says Larson. “Living expenses like rent, heating, gas, and food cost more and more. Often it seems to snowball at Christmas. Everyone wants and deserves a happy holiday season, and we want to ensure that can be achieved in a respectful way.”
Revelstokians come together at Christmas and are at their most generous, Larson notes. It’s a generosity she has to capitalize on for multiple reasons. The donations received during the holidays have to be budgeted to last over the course of the year.
There are numerous ways to support the Christmas hampers. Choosing a family from the angel tree, dropping a toy, clothing or outwear in the Red Apple Bin, donating food at the food stores via the drop boxes or by making a $2 donation at the till all help. Any local groups or businesses considering supporting the food bank can contact Larson. She can help with advertising and provide signs.
“The schools do food collection and this year Revelstoke Secondary School is collecting socks. Churches and other community groups and businesses will raise money or food as well,” says Larson. “Revelstoke Family Pharmacy is donating shampoo for every hamper. Pharmasave supplies hygiene supplies at discounted rates. Save on Foods give us great prices and the local dentists supply toothpaste and toothbrushes.”
Larson stresses the importance of remembering to donate presents for seniors as well as youth. “Revelstoke has a large senior population, and we want to make Christmas a special day for them as well. It’s nice to wake up on Christmas, have a present to open and feel a part of the community.”
In all honesty, the best way to support the hamper program and the food bank in general is to give financial donations. “We can write tax receipts,” says Larson. “With cash donations we can access greater purchasing power than residents have. We’ve built relationships over the years that allow us to be able to buy more for the dollar.”
If you or someone you love could use a hamper, get in touch with Patti. “We do take complete applications however, we work on the honour system,” Larson says. “We are respectful and anonymous.” Larson often gets calls from friends, family or neighbours who know someone who could benefit from the program. “We try and make it happen for them,” says Larson.
The Food Bank and Hamper program runs six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10am-3pm in December and is located in the basement at the Revelstoke Legion. Drop off donations are welcome. Please remember that items should be unopened and, in the cases of food, not expired.
Ultimately, Larson and her coworkers at Community Connections are dedicated to working through problems. They refer to one another when needed and are inclusive and encouraging of other community endeavours, such as the Revelstoke Community Christmas Dinner.
“Revelstoke is a caring community,” says Larson.
If you can, please donate to the Community Connections Food Bank and help keep it that way.
Ways to support and donate:
Cash donations – food donations
New unwrapped toys and books
Sponsor a senior or a family
Small gifts such as calendars, gloves, socks
Towels, notepads, personal care products, blankets
Support a child- pick an angel from the tree at CIBC
Use the $2.00 coupons as Save On and Southside
Purchase a $10.00 gift bag of food at Save On