There are two new faces heading up the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper program.
Longtime Cloverdale residents Kevin and Trish Lunder have taken over for Scott Napier, who stepped down after leading the annual Yuletide food program for two years.
After learning that key people were stepping down this year, Trish Lunder knew it was time to make a larger commitment to the non denominational program, which each December distributes food and children’s gifts to hundreds of Cloverdale residents in need.
“I said to [my husband] Kevin, we can’t let this fall through,” Trish told the Reporter recently. “It’s too important. So many families need help.”
Now in its 20th year in operation, the program distributed 225 food hampers last year, assisting 325 adults and 200 children.
It takes a combined effort of many local churches, elementary and secondary schools, businesses and service clubs, plus an army of volunteers.
Trish and Kevin Lunder are also members of Pacific Community Church, which acts as the nerve centre each December when the hampers are assembled. It’s a massive job involving dozens of volunteers working inside the 5337 180 Street church’s ample warehouse.
Both Trish and Kevin have volunteered on the assembly line, building hampers containing a week’s worth of fresh and non-perisable food, including a turkey or ham and sundry items.
They note last year’s cash and food donations were worth more than $50,000.
The Lunders are keen to sign up a list of volunteers to work shifts at the warehouse assembling hampers in the week or so before distribution day on Dec. 17, when recipients pick up their hampers, and those with children can also select toys and gifts for their kids.
To streamline efforts, they plan to schedule volunteers between the hours of 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. when the assembly line is running.
It’s a daunting prospect to take over such a large, important program as this, but as parents of three adult sons, and proud grandparents who welcomed their first grandson earlier this year, the Lunders know they’ll be able to rely on some close family members, too.
Founder Jacob Schuurman continues to work behind the scenes. Schuurman and his wife Ida ran the program for 17 years. The Schuurmans originally started the program because they had a desire to help a few Cloverdale families through the Christmas season. They gathered up donations of food and necessities, boxed them up and gave them to local families in need.
In 2005, Schuurman, who also established a local soup kitchen at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship (formerly at 175 St. and 57 Ave. in the old Cloverdale Mall), was awarded a B.C. Achievement Award for his various volunteer efforts.
Looking ahead to this year’s efforts, the Lunders say more than 300 donation boxes will be distributed throughout the community at businesses and schools, starting Nov. 1.
To get involved as a volunteer or to fill out a hamper application, please visit www.cloverdalechristmashampers.wordpress.com, or call 604-574-4001 (ext.107), email firstname.lastname@example.org. Make cheques payable to Pacific Community Church to receive a tax receipt. The mailing address is 5337 180 Street, Surrey, B.C. V3F 4K5.