Christmas hampers in demand in Maple Ridge

So far, 500 families need some help, that could grow to more than 640

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society has already signed up 500 families this year, and it appears likely there will be more than the 640 families served by the charity last year.

With two more Sundays (Dec. 9 and 16) for registration at the Hamper office, located at the Albion Fairgrounds, co-ordinator Lorraine Bates said it looks like there will be more than ever before. Some 130 families signed up Sunday.

The hamper collects donations of new, unwrapped toys, cash, and clean used or new clothes.

Each family registered receives toys valued at approximately $100 for each child up to the age of 18 in their family.

Most Christmas charities draw the line at age 14, but the local hamper is more generous.

“At 18, they’re still living and home, and they’re still kids,” said Bates.

They also receive a grocery voucher to purchase everything they need for a traditional Christmas dinner, a bacon and egg breakfast and a box of Mandarin oranges.

The grocery bill alone was $20,000 last year.

She noted that the Caddyshack Strip-a-thon fundraiser covers that grocery bill.

“We would be in trouble if we didn’t have that,” she said.

Some of the hamper items needed: craft kits for girls; models for boys; larger Lego sets; makeup sets for teen girls; toiletry sets for teen boys; gift cards for movies, Black Bond Books, EB Games, sports outlets and more.

She said one nice gift has been a wallet with fast food gift cards, so teens can go out with their friends.

New this year, people can donate online at mrpmchristmashamper.org by Paypal or credit card.

Bates said the feature was no sooner added to the society’s website, than a single donor put $1,000 in.

“That’s just awesome.”

Donations can be made at the Haney Place and Valley Fair Malls, at the Otter Co-op in Pitt Meadows, at the Maple Ridge News and other locations.

“It doesn’t matter how many numbers come our way, they’ll be taken care of,” said Bates.

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