About 430 individuals and families will receive Christmas hampers this year, thanks to the efforts of the Creston Ministerial Association, which organized the annual program.
The packing process started first thing in the morning on Dec. 16, and moved along speedily, with the help of about 200 volunteers of all ages and walks of life.
“What I love is the diversity and the fact that diversity represents the community as a whole,” said New Life Church Pastor Hermen Koehoorn. “It’s just awesome.”
This is Koehoorn’s fourth year as part of the program’s co-ordinating team, and he appreciates the opportunity to interact with the many people who help out.
“It’s kind of a place to connect with people,” he said. “Some people in the community I only see here.”
Some of this year’s volunteers included students from Prince Charles Secondary — the leadership class collected over 80 gifts — Mormon Hills and Canyon-Lister Elementary schools, as well as homeschooled children. As with the adults, they were all willing to do whatever was necessary, from sorting to packing, to get the job done.
“It’s an open mindset and an open heart,” said Koehoorn. “That’s super powerful.”
Among the donors to the program were the Creston branch of the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, which collected almost 200 books, and Fields Forward, which donated juice from cherries crushed in the summer.
For Margaret Lavender, this packing session marked an anniversary for her—she’s been doing it since 1999.
“Unfortunately, there’s obviously such a need in the community,” she said. “I feel like doing something for people who are less fortunate.”
Now in his seventh year as a volunteer, Arnold DeBoon agreed with that sentiment and noted the feeling of togetherness that comes from seeing an empty room turn into a room full of packed boxes in a matter of hours.
“There’s a real feeling of doing it for the community,” he said. “When the day is done, you feel you’ve done something special for yourself and for others.”