When the Stettler and District Hamper Society met earlier this year to plan for its annual Christmas Hamper activities, no one at the table was under any illusions about the impact the decline in the energy sector was going to have.
“We knew numbers were going to be up,” Janelle Robinson, president of the society, said. “They are up, though we don’t know exactly by how much until the deadline on Friday (Dec. 4).”
Despite the recession — or perhaps in spite of it — Robinson said that support for the Society’s efforts have been through the roof.
“Our town is pretty darn impressive,” she said. “If anything, my phone’s been ringing off the hook. If (people or businesses) can’t donate money, they want to donate time.”
When families register, they are required to provide the age, gender, size of the child as well as what interests the child has. Parents are asked to supply the child’s wishlist, so the Society can use it when making decisions about toys.
Besides toys, the children’s hampers are packed with warm winter clothing items like mittens and hats, socks, clothes, books, and hygeine items. Local dentists supply toothpaste and toothbrushes, so every child has a new toothbrush for Christmas, too.
In addition to providing a hamper for each child, the family is provided with a food hamper that has everything in it needed to make a real Christmas day dinner.
“There’s more than just that dinner though,” Robinson said. “There’s fruit, food that’ll last a few days.”
The society, which is often known as the Christmas Hamper Society rather than by its actual name, serves all of Stettler County, bringing hampers down as far as Byemoor and up to Donalda, heading east and west along Highway 12.
Families in need can register with the Stettler FCSS until Friday, Dec. 4. While the society isn’t part of the FCSS, the two non-profits have long partnered at Christmas, with the FCSS staff volunteering their time to help those in need fill out the necessary forms for the society.
“We couldn’t function as well as we do without their help,” Robinson said.