The Sooke Christmas Bureau is encouraging families and individuals who need an extra hand this upcoming holiday season to apply for their Christmas hampers.
The application deadline is Dec. 1.
“A lot of people end up coming in super last minute because they hold out hoping that a miracle happens for them,” said Kim Metzger, president of the Sooke Food Bank, which effectively turns into the Sooke Christmas Bureau in mid-December.
“I rarely hear about those miracles, but there’s really nothing to be embarrassed about here. We hope we can be that ‘something better’ that happens to them.”
The Sooke Food Bank operates on the first, second, and third Thursdays of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the last week of October, the food bank’s 40 volunteers served 102 families, 79 children and 147 adults in need. Now, 29 weeks into their 35-week schedule, they’ve given out nearly 3,000 hampers this year. And they’re ramping up their production heading into Christmas.
Mike Thomas, a volunteer with the Sooke food bank and co-chair of the Sooke Christmas Bureau, said they will continue with their annual Santa Run, in which fire services of Sooke, East Sooke and Otter Point hit the road to collect non-perishable food donations that are then used to make up the more than 400 food hampers distributed.
The event is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12. They will mostly be asking the public to help by donating cash or electronic donations, as they have to quarantine any food donations for 48 hours.
“We’re here to help no matter how long of a time that someone needs a boost,” said Thomas. “Sometimes it’s only for one or two hampers, and for others, it lasts a little longer. No matter what, we’re here to serve.”
Thomas pointed out how touched he was when someone the organization had been giving hampers for many months came back and donated $200 after he got a full-time job.
“The amount of generosity that I’ve seen since moving here blows me away,” said Ben Molesky, co-chair of the Sooke Christmas Bureau and serving with the food bank for eight years.
“Even if it’s the day after Christmas, we’re not gonna lock down these doors and turn someone away.”
The Christmas Bureau, which starts in mid-December, focuses on preparing holiday dinner hampers, including a turkey or ham, depending on the family’s size and breakfast foods such as pancakes and syrup. There are currently 420 boxes of pancake mix and an equal amount of syrup containers sitting in their storage room.
Thomas said the best way the community can help is through cash or e-donation. The Christmas Bureau will spend more than $30,000 to stock up for the hampers.
The food bank shops local most of the time and only stops by bigger box stores outside of the Sooke region if they need large cereal amounts.
Those interested in donating can go to canadahelps.org/en/charities/sooke-food-bank-society/. Those who want to apply for the hamper program send a message to the group’s Facebook page or call 250-642-7666.
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