Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society is still seeing last minute pleas for help.
The final deadline to register at the society was Dec. 4. However, even on Monday there were still people begging for assistance.
About five families put applications in on Monday, said director of the Christmas hamper society Tina Kirkpatrick.
“They had extenuating circumstances, so we were able to help them,” she noted.
But, she said, they will still help those who suddenly find themselves in a dire situation up until Christmas.
These last five bring the total numbers to 279 families, including 607 children, that registered for help this year.
Lorraine Bates, chair of the society for the past 23 years, said this year was very challenging.
Some people were disappointed they weren’t doing all the programs like: Rudolph’s Recycle Gift Shoppe, where families can take from gently used clothes, household goods and decorations; the Toy Barn filled with brand new donated toys; and Kid’s Only Gift Shoppe, that pairs up with Santa’s shopping elves to find a gift perfect for their parents.
Others, said Bates, were thankful because they knew about the gift cards but didn’t realize there were going to get the food vouchers as well.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the society was only handing out gift cards for children up to 18-years and food vouchers for Christmas dinner this year.
“That was a nice surprise for them,” she said.
One thing that Bates found disappointing this year was that she wasn’t able to provide jobs for all her volunteers.
One volunteer in particular, who was part of the team that ran Rudolph’s second hand section, told Bates that she missed the Hamper and when she heard a Christmas song that reminded her of the fun she had last year, she started to cry.
“It was then that I realized that the hamper is more than the obvious, helping families, it’s so important to the volunteers,” said Bates.
“They form friendships and that to me is just the sign of so many successes,” she added.
Kirkpatrick is not going to miss the extra work registering families for hampers this year.
Because of the pandemic, registration was done by email. And, Kirkpatrick said, there was so much back and forth with each family that it took a lot of time and organization.
However, everybody received something, noted Kirkpatrick.
Next year, both Bates and Kirkpatrick hope that COVID is gone and it will be business as usual again for the Christmas hamper society.
Although they didn’t see the high numbers of people they were expecting this year, Bates said, there is nothing more they could have done to get the word out.
They reached out to every single community service group, every single school, every person who went to the Friends In Need Food Bank received a registration form and every agency had their phone number.
“I think the government CERB, (Canada Emergency Response Benefit), is really keeping people afloat,” said Bates.
Kirkpatrick wanted to remind people that they can still donate to the Christmas hamper society through PayPal on their website or by sending a cheque to their post office address, 23448 Jim Robson Way (Albion Fairgrounds), Maple Ridge, B.C., V2W 1C1.
Nothing of value will be kept on site, she said.
And, if there is a family in immediate need, they can email: email@example.com. The account will be monitored up until Christmas.