Stettler’s effort fill hampers with food, toys at Christmas

Thanks to Stettler-area residents’ generosity, more than 100 Christmas hampers were filled last week

Thanks to Stettler-area residents’ generosity, more than 100 Christmas hampers were filled last week for households facing tough economic times this Christmas.

“We delivered 120 hampers, which is comparable to last year,” said Wendy Staal, the co-ordinator of Stettler Christmas Hamper Society.

“However, our monetary donations are down by about $5,000.”

The society encompasses the entire Stettler region, except for Big Valley, which operates a similar service separately.

Cash donations will continue to be accepted until Dec. 31.

About 75 of the hampers supported families with an average of five people, while the balance were delivered to couples and singles.

“These hampers are for people who need a hand-up, not a hand-out,” Staal said.

“They may be able to make ends meet other times of the year, but with winter living costs higher and Christmas expenses, it’s difficult for some people to cope at this time of year.”

Stettler region residents, businesses, organizations, schools and churches continue to live up to the community’s motto as the Heart of Alberta, offering support since the annual campaign began Nov. 12.

“The whole community pitches in,” said Janelle Robinson, who assisted Staal and plans to take over as the co-ordinator next year.

“We thank everyone who donates and supports the program, and all the volunteers who help out in many ways.

“Without the generous giving, the Christmas hamper program wouldn’t be the success it is, and many of the recipients would struggle to have a big family meal and gifts under the tree for children at Christmas.”

Accepting cash donations for food only, the Christmas hamper society buys all food locally. Besides the food, hampers include other special gifts for the recipients, such as toys for children.

Busy year for food bank

Serving the community year-round, Stettler and District Food Bank has also been in high demand this Christmas.

“We delivered hampers to 300 families last year, and we expect that number to be about the same this year,” said food bank managing director Kathy Willis.

From that total, about 75 per cent use the food bank six times a year or less, she said.

With cupboards generally full, that again can be attributed to the caring and helping hands and hearts of residents, said Willis, who has headed the food bank in Stettler for the past 15 years.

“The community has always been so extremely generous at this time of year and throughout the year.”

While shelves in food banks are often bare just after Christmas, she said the local service has plenty of food, even with limited space in the Stettler United Church, where renovations continue.

“We still have all the food the from the October food drive in storage,” Willis said.

Stettler food bank relies on donations from citizens, businesses and organizations in the region, because provincial and federal governments don’t fund food banks.

Cash donations help the food bank purchase perishable products, such as milk, eggs and meat.

For more information, phone Willis at 403-742-4567.

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