‘Christmas because other people shared’: Halifax non-profit hands out 1,100 Christmas hampers
|globalnews.ca 19 Dec 2017 at 11:55|
The non-profit organization works all year to help people in need but they say they typically see a spike in need around the holiday season.
“Every year we have found from Parker Street that we have people who need more assistance at Christmastime,” said Kevin McKay, operations manager for Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank.
All of the monetary donations that the organization collects go towards their Christmas Hamper Program for families in need across the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Each Christmas hamper contains all of the ingredients for a traditional Christmas dinner — like potatoes, carrots, turnips, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, a turkey and baked goods.
River, who did not wish her last name to be used, was one of the hundreds of people who lined up for a Christmas hamper on Tuesday.
“We’re all hungry, we all need help getting through Christmas and somebody has offered it,” she said.
“It’s a marvelous celebration of generosity and that’s kind of the Christmas thing isn’t is? To acknowledge that we are all vulnerable and there’s a wonderful energy that can be exchanged. I need and you give. That’s the light that we’re celebrating.”
Without the Christmas hamper, River says her family’s Christmas would look a lot different.
“I’d be opening up a can of beans and a can of tomatoes and going OK, lets make chilli. I wouldn’t be starving, I’m lucky that way,” she said.
With the help of the donation from Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank, River says her family will be able to enjoy a holiday dinner together.
“The Christmas Hamper means that I have Christmas and that means that when my two grown children come over, one of whom is on social assistance and the other is a student, we’re going to sit down to something that is a Christmas meal,” said River.
“We don’t have the extra money for gifts, so there won’t be much in the way of that. I think I’ll buy them some warm socks, that’ll do. And we found a Christmas tree by the side of the road, so that’s the Christmas tree. It’s going to be Christmas and it’s going to be Christmas because other people shared with us.”
Between 800 and 900 Christmas hampers were picked up Tuesday at the Halifax Forum. The remaining hampers will be delivered throughout the HRM on Wednesday to accommodate people who have mobility issues.
McKay says the operation wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of volunteers.
“We have I think about 1,100 or so Christmas hampers we’re giving out and we’re putting through 100 or so an hour, so you can see that would be an extremely long day if we didn’t have the volunteers,” said McKay. “They mean the world to us, really.”
Among the volunteers on Tuesday were members of the ACCEL Physio Major Bantam hockey team.
“We’re here just to help out for the people in need,” said Matthew MacDonald, 15. “It’s kind of a team builder too, come together as a team and help the people.”
In addition to the Christmas hamper, donated toys were available for parents and grandparents to select appropriate items for their children.
Volunteer Jennifer Power has been heading up the toy aspect of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank Christmas Program for the last three years.
“You want every child to have a Merry Christmas and something to open or have under their Christmas tree. If this is the way to do it, I’m happy to help. It means a lot,” said Power.
“We don’t see all the children here, mostly it’s the parents coming to pick out the toys for the children but you can tell there will be lots of smiling faces on Christmas morning.”