Carol singing and food slinging are a highlight of the year for many Canadian College of the Performing Arts students.
Once a year they gather at the school on Elgin Road and collect cash and food to polish off more than 100 hampers for those in need, just before the holidays.
Last year they put together 142 hampers for the Salvation Army.
“One of the best things about going to CCPA is the hamper party,” said student organizer Megan Littlejohn, in her second year at the Oak Bay school.
“It was really, really lovely. I showed up and we were literally swooped into the scene. It looked fairly chaotic but it couldn’t have been more organized.”
Like many at CCPA she hails from away, and the sense of giving back takes her back to that small town in Manitoba where she consistently volunteered in high school.
“Volunteering is important to me in general, what you would do for yourself you do for others. I would love everyone to have a wonderful Christmas and it makes sense to be a wonderful person,” she said. “I grew up in a home where volunteering was what you did, you got up, you brushed your teeth and you volunteered. It’s in my DNA.”
The event, scheduled for Dec. 11 this year, features “a nice mix of happy hands volunteering,” Littlejohn said.
“Something I feel about what we do, our art, is we’re giving so much to other people and I think volunteering is a chance to give back to people on a closer scale. When you share your love of art on a stage it’s a personal thing, but you don’t get to meet every person you perform for,” she said. “Victoria supports our college so much it makes sense to give back to Victoria … in a very personal manner, one by one, friend by friend. It feels like more of a tight-knit community.”
With this annual event, where residents are welcome to drop off food and cash donations, student and community volunteers come together to offer strangers a little safety and comfort.
“It’s quite beautiful how much time and energy is spent,” she said. “I really admire how much passion (organizers) put into this one day event that does so much good.”
Visit christmashamperparty.wordpress.com to learn more about the project. Non-perishable donations can be dropped off at the school, 1701 Elgin Rd., ahead of the event.