You don’t need a shiny red sleigh or eight tiny reindeer, or a belly that shakes while you laugh like a bowlful of jelly, to play Santa Claus this Christmas.
The Whistler Community Services Society’s (WCSS) Christmas Hamper program wraps up this week, Dec. 5, providing low-income families with food and gifts through the holiday.
The cost of sponsoring a hamper is between $180 and $230, which includes items like a turkey, stuffing and other traditional food items, and gifts for the children. Each family is asked to submit a wish list to the WCSS, which in turn passes on that request to a family or business that has offered to sponsor a hamper. When the requested items are large, like a request for a new pair of skis, the sponsors can give the child a gift certificate that they can use towards the purchase of that item.
“Our numbers are a little lower compared to last year, but a lot of families came to us at the last minute,” said Erin Stephens, who is coordinating the program for WCSS. So far about 12 families have registered, down from 20 last year, but that will likely increase.
“I was on the phone all day yesterday with families with wish lists, but we’re in pretty good shape — we have a lot of sponsors and people making donations instead of directly sponsoring a family, and some sponsors are just contributing the food for a hamper.”
More donations or offers to sponsor a hamper are welcome, Stephens says, as she expects to see a few last minute requests from families. If all families are taken care of, the sponsors can always donate to the local food bank.
The goal is to meet immediate needs first, such as food or gift certificates to grocery stores. As well, some businesses have donated boxes of items that will make good stocking stuffers, and that will be shared out among the hampers.
The program is confidential, and sponsors won’t know much about the families they’re donating to other than the number of adults and children, and what the children want for Christmas this year.
If you’re a family in need of assistance, or would like to sponsor a family or make a donation to the program, call Erin Stephens at 604-906-0408.