Donations are desperately needed for the Kids Only Gift Shoppe this year.
The gift shop will be open to children of registered families with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, allowing them to pick out Christmas presents for their parents and caregivers.
However, last year’s gift supply was almost depleted and volunteers are starting from scratch this season to collect enough items for the free shopping spree on Dec. 14.
“Well, it’s such a big part of Christmas for me because the kids need to give something to their parents,” said Loraine Bates, co-chair of the Christmas Hamper Society.
“It’s not a hard thing to do. It’s that box in the closet where somebody’s given you a gift and you’re never going to use it. So please re-gift it and give it to the Kid’s Only Gift Shoppe,” said Bates.
New items are also welcome for mothers, fathers, grandparents or caregivers.
The Christmas Hamper is looking for toiletries, jewelry and household items.
“Big or small, it doesn’t matter. If it’s small, we put it together and gift bag it into something bigger,” said Bates.
Donations for the Kids Only Gift Shoppe are needed before Dec. 10 and can be dropped off at the office on the Albion Fairgrounds.
Registration has already started for the Christmas Hamper.
So far registration has been slow, which is typical at the beginning, said Bates.
On Nov. 16, the first registration date this year, only 41 families registered.
Last year, a total of 575 families were registered by Christmas, with the same number expected this year.
There are several registration dates yet to come.
Families can register Nov. 23, 30 and Dec. 7, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Christmas Hamper Office, off 105 Avenue on the fairgrounds, or Nov. 27 at the back entrance to the Royal Canadian Legion (12101 – 224th Street, Maple Ridge).
To qualify for the Christmas Hamper, individuals receiving monthly financial assistance or disability need to bring their last stub, care cards for yourself and all family members, proof of age for any child 16 and older, proof of residency in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows and photo identification for yourself.
If your family is low-income, you need to bring any proof of lack of income, such as a wage receipt, rent, phone, Hydro or car payment bills, care cards for yourself and all family members, proof of age for any child 16 and older, proof of residency in either community and photo identification for yourself.
The Christmas Hamper is a registered non-profit society and charity under the Canada Revenue Agency Charities Act and a member of the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. It is fully operated by volunteers.
Every year volunteers ensure every registered family is provided a Christmas Day meal and every child up to 18 years old is given a toy or gift bag worth in between $75 and $100.
The Christmas Hamper Society also administers the Good Neighbour Program, an adopt-a-family program, for which a whole family is taken care of for Christmas by a single donor.
So far 31, Good Neighbours have been found and all have been given families.
Last year, there were 104 Good Neighbours, and Tina Kirkpatrick, director of the Christmas Hamper Society, expects to need about the same this year.
To become a Good Neighbour or for more information about any of the programs, go to http://www.mrpmchristmashamper.org or call 604-463-6922.