It’s the season of giving, which means the Creston Valley Ministerial Association is hard at work in our community.
For decades now, community volunteers have gathered donations to put together Christmas hampers filled with groceries and gifts for low-income families to enjoy in December.
“It is a community event,” said Tom Greentree, a member of the ministerial. “Many of the volunteers have said that Christmas hasn’t started until they get together to pack the hampers. It’s just part of how they give back.”
The initiative is now so well-supported that there is a wait list of volunteers. Over 120 people are currently involved with gathering donations, sorting, and packing the hampers.
The Christmas hampers are meant to be a festive treat for the recipients, packed not only with pantry staples, but also with the essentials for holiday meals. Some of the items may include bread, apples, assorted, vegetables, cranberries, syrup, pancake mix, hot chocolate, stuffing, and pet supplies.
Each hamper is assigned to a specific family and packaged accordingly, with age appropriate gifts for any kids in the househould.
It will cost approximately $55,000 for the Creston Valley Ministerial Association to provide hampers to an estimated 550 households this year.
Inflation has caused costs for the program to rise exponentially. For perspective, it cost approximately $22,000 a decade ago in 2012.
The need for help is also more than ever,with more families experiencing tough times due to added pressures from the COVID19 pandemic, job loss, and increased living costs.
Local business support
Over the years, Greentree said he has been blown away by the community’s support.
There are countless individuals and businesses involved across the Creston Valley – too many to thank separately.
“All of these different groups, just totally unsolicited and unmanaged as donors, contribute their time and money,” he said. “People are taking the initiative on their own. That’s a really obvious sign of the generosity of this community. A lot of these things happen behind the scenes. So they don’t get any fanfare, but it represents a ton of hard work.”
Sue’s Clotheslines is one of the local businesses that contributes in a big way every year.
For the last 10 years, owner Sue Thomas has been hosting a silent auction and other creative fundraising endeavours at her store, such as craft sales, raffles, and a penny toss.
This year, she has $12,000-worth of auction items donated by over 90 people and businesses.
“Everything we raise in the store, I match personally,” she said. “I’m very fortunate that I make a decent living and I can buy my own food. There’s a lot of people that can’t and may fall through the cracks. So that’s who I’m doing this for.”
In 2021, she presented a cheque of $12,700 to Greentree for the Christmas hamper program.
“We stand in awe of the type of giving that this community does behind the scenes,” said Greentree. “We are so honoured to be part of it. Just really, really grateful.”
To support the silent auction, the items can be viewed on Sue’s Clotheslines Facebook page and bid on by stopping in at the store. The auction closes at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26.
How to help
Residents can support the program in a number of ways:
• Donate a new unwrapped gift for children from the ages of infant to 10 years old
• Donate non-perishable food items to a local church or the Gleaners Food Bank
• Make a monetary donation at the checkout at Save-On-Foods, Pealow’s Your Independent Grocer, or The Bargain Shop,
• Donate a cheque or cash at the the Creston Valley Advance office or the drop box at Apex Accounting (122 – 11 Ave. N)
• Donate online at www.crestonvalleyministerial.com
Those who are in need of a hamper are asked to pre-register before Nov. 30. To do so, contact any of the churches listed on www.crestonvalleyministerial.com or contact the Gleaners Food Bank at 250-428-4106. Any further questions can be directed to 250-428-2300.
Pick-up day for the Christmas hampers is scheduled for Dec. 14.