Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society volunteers Sheila Graber, Joe Madeiros and Tina Kirkpatrick, at right, in the Toy Barn at office headquarters. (The News files)

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society volunteers Sheila Graber, Joe Madeiros and Tina Kirkpatrick, at right, in the Toy Barn at office headquarters. (The News files)

Registration season starts for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society

Those in need can register for help starting Monday, Nov. 7

Tina Kirkpatrick has already received 28 applications for help this Christmas from families in need – and registration for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society has not even started yet.

The first day for registration is on Monday, Nov. 7, said the society’s board chair, who noted she doesn’t know how many applications to expect this year.

“We thought that there would be a huge rush last year, but because CERB was still in play, we saw a reduced number of families applying,” explained Kirkpatrick of the financial assistance available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has also been hearing that more and more people are moving east as rents have become too expensive in the community.

However, Kirkpatrick discovered, after meeting with representatives from the Friends In Need Food Bank, that the number of the food bank clients the Christmas Hamper Society helped last year has now doubled.

The Christmas Hamper Society was established in the late 1960’s and is a registered non-profit and a member of the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, run solely by volunteers. The mandate of the society is to provide a traditional Christmas dinner and gifts for every family and child in need in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows to open Christmas day, so every family in the community can enjoy a wonderful Christmas.

Families must be approved by the society – meeting specific criteria of having a low income or receiving government financial assistance.

Once approved families will receive a grocery gift card and gifts for every child under the age of 19, who are in their full-time care and who are named on the application form.

Gift cards for groceries have been increased this year due to inflation and the gift amount for each child has also been increased to $125 per child.

Those who need help are being encouraged to apply online. But there will also be a limited amount of in-person registrations at the Christmas Hamper Society office.

“Some of them just like to come in because they are unsure of exactly what documentation they need to have and all that and it’s easier for them to speak to a person one-on-one to do it,” she said.

RELATED: Head of Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society passing the reins

This year will be the first year since the COVID pandemic started that the Christmas Hamper Society will offer all of their programs again including Rudolph’s Recycle Gift Shoppe where families can pick up gently used items, and the Kid’s Only Shoppe, where children can choose new items to give their parents for Christmas.

Donations of toys, puzzles, games, books, crafts, decorations, clothing, coats, housewares, blankets and bedding, towels, jewellery, and unopened toiletries will all be accepted.

“Everything except for furniture and used underwear and socks,” will be accepted, chuckled Kirkpatrick. No stuffed toys either.

They are also looking for new donations for the Kid’s Only, like scarves, gloves, sports memorabilia, or packaged mugs with tea or coffee – anything gift worthy for an adult, said Kirkpatrick.

ALSO: Outpouring of generosity for Christmas Hamper Society after safe stolen

As of today, Kirkpatrick has 32 Good Neighbours who want to sponsor a family for Christmas, but she is looking for more.

If families do not elect to be part of the Good Neighbour Program, they visit the Toy Barn instead to choose new toys and gifts for their children.

The Christmas Hamper Society office will be open for walk-ins from 10-12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14 and 21; Tuesday, Nov. 15 and 22; and Wednesday, Nov. 16 and 23.

Rudolph’s Recycle Gift Shoppe will be open from 10-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, 10, and 17. The Kid’s Only will only be open from 10-2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17.

The deadline to register for help is Wednesday, Dec. 14.

For more information about the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, to register for help, or to donate, go to mrpmchristmashamper.org.

The office is located 23448 Jim Robson Way in Maple Ridge.

To contact the office call 604-463-6922 or email tina@mrpmchristmashamper.org.


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