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Creston Ministerial Association preparing to pack Christmas hampers

The Creston Ministerial Association is preparing to pack hampers to allow those in need to enjoy the holiday season...
Volunteers packing Christmas hampers in 2011.

With Christmas approaching, the Creston Ministerial Association is preparing to pack hampers to allow those in need to enjoy the holiday season.

In less than two weeks, the hampers will be filled with non-perishable food, gifts and household items for about 450 recipients — singles and families — in the Creston Valley, a number that has climbed from 350 only five years ago.

“You want the numbers to go down in terms of the need, but the need is there,” said ministerial association president Tom Greentree, pastor at Erickson’s Evangelical Covenant Church.

The community has never held back from supporting the program, both with donations of food, books (through the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy) and toys (through Pyramid Building Supplies), as well as cash — last year, about $23,000 was spent to buy necessary items that were not donated, including gift cards for turkeys from Overwaitea Foods.

“It’s not just a little meal — it’s actually quite a significant amount,” said Greentree, adding that the hampers can easily last into the new year. “It enables them to smooth that experience.”

One of the final opportunities to offer financial support will be when the annual carol festival is held at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church.

Anyone in need of a hamper — of who knows someone in need — can contact any church to sign up before Dec. 12. The hampers will be packed on Dec. 17 at the Creston and District Community Complex so that they will be ready for recipients to pick them up at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18. After about four decades of running the program, the packing process runs smoothly, with volunteers swarming the Creston Room.

“There’s been an amazing group of volunteers with the hamper program who really know what they are doing,” said Greentree.

He’s been in the Creston Valley for less than two years, and this isn’t the first hamper program Greentree has been involved with, but he’s no less impressed by the support shown by the entire valley.

“The ministerial association may oversee it, but it’s a gift from the Creston Valley,” he said. “It speaks a lot to the heart of the community.”