Christmas Hamper Society bracing for higher numbers

With the deadline for Christmas Hamper applications just around the corner, members of the Christmas Hamper Society are...

Without the help of the Hamper Society and the community that donates to the organization

Without the help of the Hamper Society and the community that donates to the organization

With the deadline for Christmas Hamper applications just around the corner, members of the Christmas Hamper Society are bracing for the final numbers.

Each year, volunteers collect donations of toys and other goodies, storing them until it’s time to build the hampers. The hampers also include everything needed to ensure the recipients enjoy a Christmas day feast.

Applications are due today, Friday, Dec. 9, with packing day planned for Dec. 20 and distribution happening on the 21st.

Applications collected by Stettler and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), which partners with the society to ensure the hampers are getting to the people in need in the community, while protecting the anonymity of the applicants.

While the final number of hampers needing to be built won’t be available until after the deadline, Janelle Robinson, president of the Society, said she’s anticipating an increase of applications.

If that prediction holds true, it will be the second year in a row that the number has noticeably climbed, an ascent Robinson attributes to the slumping economy.

With the economic woes now well past employment insurance or severance payments, more and more families are feeling the pinch, Kathy Pivert, who along with Brenda Vegter run the Christmas PJs program, said.

The pair took over the program a few years ago after the Stettler Kinettes indicated they were unable to continue. The program collects brand new pyjamas and gives them to the Christmas Hamper Society to distribute through the hampers.

“The idea is everyone has a new pair of pyjamas to open presents in,” Pivert explained. “It was a Christmas tradition. On Christmas eve we’d be able to open one present, and it was usually new pyjamas to wear that night and the next morning.”

Pivert and Vegter partnered with the Christmas Hamper Society to distribute the pyjamas because they wanted to ensure the privacy of the recipients.

“We have no idea who gets them,” Pivert said.

Last year, the society and FCSS distributed about 125 hampers, Patrick Callin at FCSS said.

“We run off donations,” he said. “This year, we anticipate an increase of about 30 per cent.”

Callin, who has worked with the society as FCSS’ liaison now for two years, said the good will shown by Stettler residents is wonderful.

“Our hampers are very generous,” he said, attributing that to donations given by the community. “It will never stop amazing me.”

Donations have been a bit slow in some quarters though, with Pivert noting that they expect to need about 125 pairs of pyjamas, and are not even half-way there yet.

The deadline to drop off pyjamas at one of the drop-off points is Thursday, Dec. 15; nightwear can be dropped off at Gitzel and Company Chartered Professional Accountants and Herbal Magic.