In 2020, the Christmas hamper program distributed groceries and gifts to over 400 families with the help of many dedicated volunteers. (Creston Valley Ministerial Association)

In 2020, the Christmas hamper program distributed groceries and gifts to over 400 families with the help of many dedicated volunteers. (Creston Valley Ministerial Association)

Creston Ministerial asks for donations to annual Christmas hamper program

Donations will be accepted at the local churches until Nov. 30

The Creston Valley Ministerial Association is continuing its mission of giving back to those in need this holiday season.

Every December, volunteers put together hampers filled with groceries and gifts for lower-income families to enjoy at Christmas.

“It started many, many years ago with the heart of providing people a Christmas dinner that they might not be able to afford for themselves,” said Hermen Koehoorn, pastor at New Life Church.

“Over the years, it’s grown. The very generous outpouring of donations allows us to provide a week’s worth of groceries and not just a single meal.”

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 $50,000 for the Creston Valley Ministerial Association to provide hampers to 500 households this year.

“Even though the Creston Ministerial facilitates it, everyone rallies behind this cause. Many individuals, businesses, and local farmers lend support and donate to the program,” said Koehoorn.

“We are so grateful for the generosity from the community.”

In 2020, the program kept going through the pandemic with help from many dedicated volunteers who worked under enchanced health and safety protocols. Due to the restrictions, the hampers were smaller and substituted with gift cards.

“This year, we are excited to be able to return to providing more groceries and food for families in need over the Christmas season,” said Koehoorn.

To reduce face-to-face contact last year, recipients lined up in their vehicles to pick up their hampers. It worked so efficiently that the ministerial has decided to keep the drive-thru style this year and in the future.

“Part of the purpose of this is to connect with people,” said Koehoorn.

“We like to be able to wish them a merry Christmas as we hand them their boxes. On distribution day, we see how this lifts people up and encourages them.”

Helen Collins, another co-ordinator of the program, agreed that the positive energy and the unity displayed by the volunteers is unmatched.

“The whole atmosphere just blows me away. This is an opportunity to let people know that they’re loved by the whole community,” said Collins.

“It has been so fulfilling to be a part of this. I always get so much more from it than what I put in.”

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

• Make a monetary donation at the checkout at Save-On-Foods, Pealow’s Your Independent Grocer, and The Bargain Shop

Gift and food donations can be dropped of either at Gleaner’s or one of the community churches. To donate directly to the Creston Valley Ministerial Association, visit online or go to the drop box at Apex Accounting (122 – 11 Ave. N).

Recipients are asked to meet at the Creston and District Community Complex parking lot on Dec. 15 between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be further directions from there.

Those who are in need of a hamper are asked to contact any church and register before Nov. 30. Any other questions can be directed to 250-428-2300.

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