Christmas is the season for giving, and opportunities abound as volunteers with the Community Harvest Food Bank are busy making preparations for this year’s Christmas hampers.
The food bank gives away about 250 hampers each year to local families that need a little extra help at Christmas time.
Applications for the hampers can be picked up at the food bank Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and must be turned in by Dec. 12. The Castlegar food bank covers a service area from Genelle to Tarrys to lower Pass Creek.
“Our Christmas clients are not just the people on assistance, they are working families that are struggling, wishing they didn’t have to ask for help, but really just needing a little hand up,” said food bank director Deb McIntosh.
“Its important people give good quality food, good quality gifts, and just make that day a little brighter for somebody,” she said.
“There are different degrees of struggling and until you walk a mile in their shoes, you don’t know what it’s like. So we ask that everybody have a little more empathy in their heart and open their wallets a little wider and give generously,” added McIntosh.
Food donation boxes can be found all over town and people can simply put their donations in the box of their choice or head out to the Kootenay Gallery of Arts and Culture where receipts can be given for monetary donations.
Food and gifts can also be dropped off at city hall and cheques can be mailed to the Deb McIntosh, Community Harvest Food Bank c/o City of Castlegar.
Donations are accepted directly at the food bank Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Any organization that is collecting food or gifts must have their donations collected prior to Monday Dec. 17, or delivered to the Sandman Hotel on that day.
“We do ask that people hang on to their donations as long as possible as storage space at the food bank is limited,” said McIntosh.
Only non-perishable food items are accepted. The food bank will fill out the hampers with perishables purchased with the monetary donations. Only new toys are accepted, nothing used.
McIntosh said that one category of gifts that they are frequently short of is gifts for older children and teens, so it would be nice if people kept the older ones in mind when purchasing gifts.
Another great way to give donations is at the Castlegar Fire Department’s annual toy drive. The drive will be held Saturday, Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Castlegar A&W. All gifts should be unwrapped.
A&W will be providing coupons good for a teen burger and root beer for those bringing in new toys or monetary donations.
Unfortunately, scammers also try to take advantage of this time of year and McIntosh warned that the Community Harvest Food Bank never sends out people soliciting donations door-to-door.
Any questions about giving or receiving can be directed to McIntosh at 250-608-1047 or 250-365-8076.