The Creston Room at the Creston and District Community Complex was a flurry of well organized activity on Monday as over 130 volunteers spent most of the day sorting food and donations, and then packing 400 Christmas hampers for the Creston Ministerial Association’s annual project, now running for well over 40 years.
“There was a real sense of teamwork,” said ministerial association president Tom Greentree. “It was a fun time.”
After sorting of food items — both nonperishable, as well as fresh apples, carrots and potatoes — toys, books, wrapping paper and more, Greentree started the day with a prayer and led the volunteers in singing Joy to the World. And then they went to work, rolling boxes down an assembly line where they were filled to overflowing with food.
Three hundred sixty-nine hampers were requested prior to packing day, and the extra 30 didn’t go to waste, with over 20 being requested on Tuesday — pickup day — and a few trickling in later.
“People really go out with a real abundance,” Greentree said. “It’s not just a box with a few canned goods.”
Included in the family boxes is a $25 gift card to help with the purchase of a turkey if they so choose — and those gift cards, combined with food purchases add up to about $25,000, which makes cash donations just as important (excess funds are distributed throughout the year to help the community with medical and dental expenses).
Volunteers of all ages took part in the packing, with children and seniors working side by side to get the job done.
“Some kids’ parents even pulled them out of school today,” said Greentree.
For many volunteers, hamper packing brings them back year after year. Paul Bartlett, for example, was helping last week for his 20th year.
“People need this and somebody has got to do it,” he said.
For 17 years, Shirley Armstrong and members of the Girl Guides Trefoil Guild have been volunteering, having started when boxes were lined up and filled on Trinity United Church pews.
“It’s something that makes us feel good,” Armstrong said.
Tanya Bilcik works at Pyramid Building Supplies, which annually collects children’s toys for the hampers, and she’s been volunteering since she was 16.
“It gives you a really nice feeling,” she said. “There’s a lot of giving people in this town. … It’s nice to know there are a lot of warmhearted people around.”