BEING YOUNG: Winter difficult for many

Consider lending a hand as holidays approach – the food bank and Christmas hamper need volunteers

By Marlowe Evans/Special to The News

It’s the day after Halloween, and now with our stomachs full of miniature chocolate bars, and our trash bins full of rotting pumpkin, we can sit and relax.

Except some of us can’t.

The holiday season tightens purse strings and empties cupboards.

It’s in the winter, when night come earlier and cold weather sets in, that our community most needs to come together – to help one another to get through what can prove to be difficult months.

This is the perfect time to start thinking about donating to the Friends in Need Food Bank, whether that donation is time, or food, or money.

The local grocers keep donation bins at the front of their stores, where non-perishable food donations can be made.

Some grocery stores also offer the opportunity to add the purchase of B.C. Share coupons to your bill at the checkout. These $2 coupons support families in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Food donations are also taken at the food bank headquarters in Maple Ridge (#8-22726 Dewdney Trunk Rd. ) or at Grace Community Church in Pitt Meadows (12240 Harris Rd.).

However, food and monetary donations aren’t the only things that can be contributed.

The Friends in Need Food Bank only has two actual employees, and only one of them is full time. The rest of their workforce is made up of volunteers.

According to the food bank website, most volunteers are needed Tuesdays to Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This may be difficult for youth who are still in school, but it’s worth asking if help can be given in the evenings, or even to go before school starts early in the morning.

Any amount of help you can give is help worth giving.

Now is also a good time to start thinking about the Christmas Hamper.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society is a registered non-profit charity, just like the Friends in Need Food Bank. But, they focus specifically on giving extra help to families during the holidays.

This can include gifts and food for a Christmas feast.

By enrolling in their Good Neighbours program, one is matched up with a specific family in the community, and works to collect what they need and want for Christmas.

This can be done directly within the family, or also as a class or community group. I participated in this program while at Thomas Haney Secondary, and also through my scout groups.

For teens who need service hours, or who just want to do a good deed this holiday season, this is a perfect opportunity.

There is also a toy barn program, where one of the barn on the fairgrounds is filled with donated toys, and recipient parents are paired up with a shopping elf and can choose gifts for their children.

If sponsoring a family or collecting donations is difficult, once again, time is a wonderful donation.

The hamper society website lists volunteer dates Dec. 8 and 15.

The beginning of winter is a difficult time for many members of our community, but there are many ways for youth to give back.

Just a simple Google search reveals a sea of volunteer opportunities in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Just a few hours of time can make someone’s holidays much easier. It may seem strange to be thinking about this the day after Hallowe’en, but winter is nearly upon us.

– Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues

RECENT COLUMN: Holiday jobs key for many youth

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