The Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program is a community effort to make Christmas a happy time for those who might otherwise be unable to enjoy it.

Making Christmas a little merrier

The Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program marks its 25th anniversary.

The Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program marks its 25th anniversary this year. For decades, the program has served less-fortunate seniors, individuals, and youth in Cloverdale and South Surrey by giving out hampers of non-perishable food, sundries, toys and other gifts during the holiday season. It’s a community effort to make Christmas a happy time for those who might otherwise be unable to enjoy it.

Matthew Campbell, director of the Cloverdale Community Kitchen, based out of the Pacific Community Church, works year-round to eliminate poverty in the Cloverdale area. “Cloverdale is a unique community that joins together to get involved with the program,” Campbell said. “School groups, churches, boy scouts, girl guides, and businesses help out.”

Campbell expects that, once again, half of the church will become a warehouse filled with food, with 50 or more volunteers working to pack hampers. Last year the hamper program collected 50,000 lbs of food.

Although the program receives many donations, certain needs go unmet every year. Campbell is concerned about two groups in particular—boys from 8 to 12 years of age and teenagers. “It’s a really difficult demographic to buy for,” Campbell said. “We would love people to think about gift cards to a local mall, or Itunes gift cards or movie passes.”

The hamper program expanded this year to include Port Kells, which came with its own concerns. “We discovered that the area was under-serviced,” said Campbell, who explained that seniors were in particular need.  “Because of these increased needs, we also have an increased demand for volunteers—to pack hampers, sort, deliver and more.”

“Many Christmas programs are focused on good toys for Christmas, but a lot of seniors get forgotten,” he said. “We want to make sure you can still enjoy your Christmas. If you feel like you’re in need at this time of year, come in and apply for a hamper. Call us and we’ll be happy to help.”

On Monday, December 19th, the Cloverdale Community Kitchen will host a special Christmas dinner, with turkey and all the fixings. The whole community is invited, including those who volunteer for the program and those who will receive a hamper. The kitchen expects to serve 200 people, and community members can pick up their hamper after dinner.

Donation boxes are located at Pacific Community Church’s entrance doors or at many schools and business locations in Cloverdale. Financial donations towards the hamper program can be made online, by mailing a cheque to Pacific Community Church, or by bringing a cash donation to the church during office hours.

Tax receipts for donations of $5 or more will be issued. Any donations of gift cards must include the activation receipt in order for the donor to receive a tax receipt.

Those who would like more information about the program, including how to register for a hamper or volunteer, can visit www.cloverdalechristmashamper.ca or email cloverdalechristmashampers@gmail.com. The hamper program is open to people living within the boundaries of 164 Street, 196 Street, the Canada-U.S. border and the Fraser River. Registrations are being accepted at the office of Pacific Community Church, 5337 180 St. in Cloverdale, from Nov. 21 to Dec. 6, Mondays to Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..

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