Cloverdale Christmas food drive in overdrive

The Cloverdale Christmas Hamper campaign has one month to go before pick-up day.

The student leadership team at George Greenaway Elementary

An annual food drive that saw more than 230 Cloverdale families through the Christmas season last year is once again looking for donations of food, cash and volunteer support.

The Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program, a non-denominational food aid program that runs on the combined efforts of the entire community, is accepting applications from needy families.

It’s also ready to accept donations of food, cash and new gifts for children and youths.

By the end of last week, more than 200 donation boxes had been distributed to businesses, schools and churches throughout the Cloverdale area, ready for this year’s appeal, says Kevin Lunder, who acts as program lead along with his wife, Trish.

Hamper pick-up day is early this year – Saturday, Dec. 14, so Lunder is urging supporters to have their donations in no later than Dec. 9. It will take volunteers the rest of that week to sort donations and assemble hampers in time.

The hampers are filled with a week’s worth of fresh and non-perishable food.

It takes an army of volunteers to man the assembly line in the warehouse of Pacific Community Church. Shifts will be running daily from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Dec. 8 to 13.

Volunteers range from Cubs, Scouts, and Guides to youth hockey teams, Kwantlen Polytechnic University students and families.

About 75 to 100 volunteers turned out daily to help last year.

“There were a lot of families last year, wanting to get involved. I’m sure we will see those people back again, because it was fun.”

A network of diverse community partners are also involved with other aspects of the campaign, including the Surrey Association For Community Living’s Clover Valley day program.

Donations are key. Food items, gifts, and cash are all urgently needed.

“Last year, we were just a little concerned with the financial donations coming in,” Lunder said. A last minute infusion of support helped put the program in the black.

Both local PriceSmarts and Marketplace IGA–Cloverdale are on board. He said businesswoman Jen Temple has joined the team to help with donations and advertising.

Lunder asks that people making food donations check to ensure the items have not outlasted their best before date.

“We’ve had boxes and boxes of food that had expired,” he says.

One of the biggest sources of support are local schools. The two local secondary schools – Clayton Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir – have entered into a friendly rivalry to see which school can collect the most donations.

“They’re our two largest supporters,” Lunder says.

And 20 donation boxes overflowing with non-perishable food items have already been collected from George Greenaway Elementary in Cloverdale, according to principal Elsie Bertholm.

The initiative was headed up by the school’s Me to We student leadership team, which went around door-to-door collecting donations on Halloween.  Students in all grades also brought in their own donations from home, resulting in a massive collection.

“We had almost 2,000 items,” Bertholm said.

It’s easier than ever to make a cash donation to the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program. This year, it can be done online through Paypal at the new website, at http://www.pacificcommunity.ca/ministries/cloverdale-hamper-program.

This year’s application deadline is Dec. 5. Application forms may be downloaded from the website.

Donations of cash, food, merchandise and gifts are accepted (new toys only, please). Cash donations receive a tax deductible receipt. Make cheques payable to Pacific Community Church.

Suggested donations include: non perishable food items such as canned vegetables and fruit, soup, crackers, snacks, canned meat or fish, condiments, pasta, and rice, grocery and food gift cards, toiletries and personal care items, new gloves, socks and scarves, new, unwrapped children’s toys and gifts for ages newborn to 12 years, and store gift cards for youths aged 13-17.

For further information on donating or volunteering, call 604-574-4001 ext. 107 or email cloverdalechristmashampers@gmail.com. The mailing address is 5337 180 Street, Surrey, B.C. V3F 4K5.

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