Volunteers at the Christmas Hamper Society office are ready for the Christmas rush. (Contributed) Bill Dick, with Phoenix Truck and Crane, helped out with a $1,500 donation to the hamper.

Christmas Hamper Society awaiting families in Maple Ridge

Good news that fewer people need help this year

It’s kind of a good-news, bad-news scenario this year at the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, down at the Albion fairgrounds.

The good news is, for one reason or another, as of late last week, only 170 people have registered for a Christmas hamper, reports volunteer coordinator Tina Kirkpatrick.

That either means, in today’s buoyant economy, when people have jobs and money, that they don’t really need a Christmas hamper.

If that’s the case, it’s all good, says Kirkpatrick.

But she’s also wondering, is the low number of registrants because people just haven’t bothered to sign up yet for a hamper and in the next few days they’re about to swamp the place?

Where is everyone, she’s wondering?

It just seems a bit too quiet.

“But if everybody is taken care of, that’s great.”

There are only two remaining registration dates for people to sign up for a Christmas hamper.

This Friday, Dec. 7, at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church at 22155 Lougheed Hwy., registration takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., while on Sunday, Dec. 9, the last day of registration takes place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., at the Christmas hamper office in the Albion fairgrounds on Jim Robson Way, across from Planet Ice.

Kirkpatrick said that ideally, once registered, families can pick up their toys and vouchers all in one and be ready for Christmas.

“We just want to make sure that everybody who’s eligible comes down to register,” Kirkpatrick said.

Last year, 465 families received a hamper ensuring that they got Christmas grocery vouchers, based on the size of the family as well as toys, worth up to $75 for each child in the family.

In 2011, a total of 640 families received hampers.

The hamper society tries to make Christmas as easy and family friendly as possible. Parents can pick out their own toys for their kids at the Toy Barn and while there also get free board games and books, all brand new. There’s also the Rudolph’s Recycle Gift Shoppe where people can pick up any new or gently used item that suits their fancy.

On Dec. 15, there’s a Kid’s Only Gift Shoppe where kids can stop in and pick out presents for their parents or caregivers.

Donors continue to help out to ensure that everyone has a Christmas.

The West Coast Express Santa Train takes place on two Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, where free rides into Vancouver are given in exchange for a new gift donation to the hamper society. Meanwhile, the Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue Firefighters for Families will be collecting toys, food and cash for both the hamper society and the Friends in Need Food Ban, on Dec. 15.

People also continue to drop off donations daily. West Coast Auto Group and Phoenix Truck and Crane were only just two of the most recent donors.

And if it wasn’t for the annual Caddyshack Strip-A-Thon that took place Sunday, the Christmas Hamper Society would be in a bad way.

Last year, the dancers and staff at the Caddyshack raised just under $30,000.

That pays for more than half of the cost of the grocery vouchers, said Kirkpatrick.

People can also sign up for the Good Neighbours Program, where they adopt a particular family and get the appropriate gifts, ensuring everyone has a happy Christmas.

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(THE NEWS/files) Peter van der Lee, a volunteer at the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, shows some of the toys from last year.

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