Hampers will help out families at Christmas 

If any Whistler families are worried about making ends meet through the holiday season, help is close at hand.

Whistler Community Services Society is gearing up, once again, for their Santa’s Helpers Christmas Hamper Program, which provides hampers stuffed full of holiday goodies to Whistler families in need.

"If you’re finding… that you’re struggling at the moment making ends meets and you’re really stressed about being able to provide a Christmas for your kids, then I’d say you qualify," said WCSS Executive Director Janet McDonald. "We ensure that our application process does not create barriers to receiving assistance."

She also reiterated that the program is completely confidential.

"It’s totally confidential and we’re very careful in matching families with sponsors," she added.

Every year businesses, organizations, families and individuals can sponsor a family by providing or paying for a hamper. It’s a holiday trend which is becoming increasingly popular said McDonald.

"A lot of people in organizations now are deciding rather than having a department party where people give each other silly little gifts… that (instead) each person takes that money that they would have spent and puts it towards doing a hamper," she said.

The sponsors are provided with a family profile, which includes the age and sex of the children and their "wish list." The profile does not have any detailed personal information. It’s up to the sponsors to get things on the kids’ wish list.

"They can fill the whole list if they want or they can fill a portion," said McDonald. The hampers should also include staple foods and the fixings for Christmas dinner. Sponsors are encouraged to include gift certificates for the local grocery stores so that the families can choose what they want for Christmas dinner.

"We give out a full guideline of how to put the hamper together, how to organize it and what to put in," she added.

Alternatively sponsors can also make a financial donation to WCSS for a Christmas hamper. Sponsorship for a small family is $180 and $250 for a large family. To date five families have signed up for the program, with six sponsors registered. McDonald is expecting more families and sponsors to sign up as the deadline approaches.

The program helps between 20 and 25 Whistler families every year.

The application deadline for the Christmas Hamper Program is Thursday, Dec. 2. The hampers must be dropped off by the sponsors on Thursday, Dec. 16 in order to be delivered by WCSS staff two days later, on Saturday, Dec. 18. For more information about the program, either to apply or to make a donation, call Janet McDonald at 604-932-0113.

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