Get in the holiday spirit because Christmas is coming to town early, at least it is for the Goldstream Food Bank Society.
Volunteers are already accepting donations for their family Christmas hampers.
“We’re looking for toys specifically for infants to 11 year olds,” says Gayle Ireland, president of the Goldstream Food Bank Society. “We don’t need stuffies because we have way too many of them. The best toys are unused ones and current toys, something parents would give their own child for Christmas.”
Every year, the group prepares around 700 Christmas hampers for those in need. Each hamper contains a gift card for a turkey (or meat of your choice) and everything else for a Christmas dinner.
The hampers will be filled with toys from ‘Santa’ for kids up to 11 and gift cards for teens. They’re also looking for stocking stuffers for the older teens, such as makeup, quirky trinkets, and card games.
Last year, they handed out 656 hampers. According to Ireland, a third of all hampers directly benefit children in the community.
“If you’re thinking about signing up for a Christmas hamper, don’t wait,” says Ireland. “We’re non-judgmental here. We just want to help you out and make life a little easier.”
She recalls Christmas 2017 as a memorable year. A young father came into the food bank on the final day of Christmas hampers and explained how his ex-wife was bringing over their kids from the mainland. He had nothing for them.
Ireland and her fellow volunteers were able to quickly organize some presents and stocking stuffers just before he ran off to meet them. Just as he was about to leave, she handed him a new Christmas tree ornament, saying that it was for him.
“I told him that this whole time he had been so worried, he didn’t get a Christmas present for himself. I said that it was my gift to him.”
She says he broke down in tears.
“I went home and had the best Christmas ever. It feels good when you give back.”
Residents who have toys, gift cards, or non-perishable items to donate can drop by the food bank in the basement of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 in Langford.
In October, they’re open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. In November, they will have the same hours but open every weekday.
Volunteers who want to help can call 250-474-4443 to organize availability. Families who are looking to sign up for a Christmas hamper can drop by the food bank to get an application form.
To donate, visit canadahelps.org/en/charities/goldstream-food-bank-society/.