Groups collecting donations for Christmas hampers

It's that time of year again when those who can't afford Christmas dinner can reach out for help to organizations that offer assistance during what to most is a time of celebration.
The Prince George Council of Seniors, 721 Victoria St., is taking applications for those in need until Dec. 8 and delivery of the hampers will take place Dec. 21 and 22.
"People must bring in picture ID, proof of address, proof of household income and expenses," Lola-Dawn Fennell, general manager of PGCOS, said. "We'd like all non-perishable donations to be made before Friday, Dec. 15 so we know what we have and then we'll have time to get things with the cash donations and grocery gift cards people give us."
Because the seniors council is a non-profit organization, those donating cash are eligible for a tax receipt.
The council is going on an online adventure by offering insight into donations by posting what's come in so far and what they still need on their website at
Donations for the seniors' council need to have nutritional value, and please consider low sodium, low sugar options of healthy foods, Fennell said. Bulk items are not necessary, portions should be smaller, because the council volunteers can't divvy up portions. The council will not accept gifts especially scented items like candles, but welcome new items such as gloves, scarves, hats and socks, and don't forget the for men. Hampers include enough food to see the seniors through to the new year, as well as ingredients for a traditional Christmas dinner.
PGCOS is expecting to distribute about 300 hampers, just like last year, so all donations are welcome.
Volunteers are needed to help between Dec. 10 and 21 to sort donations, assemble and deliver the hampers that will be put in reusable, cloth bags sponsored by the Spruce City Lion's Club.  There are even some sit-down jobs where volunteers will label the hampers so those delivering will know who gets them and where to deliver.
The office is accepting donations and applications Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information or to volunteer call 250-564-5888.
St. Vincent de Paul Society had 326 hampers go out to families in need last year and expect the same number of applications because the cost of groceries is so high, Bernie Goold, longtime board member and volunteer with the society, said.
St. Vincent will be taking hamper applications until Dec. 1 and intake is at the old location of the society's thrift store at 1180 Third Ave., Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.
The society accepts applications for families with children 18 and under, including low income working families.
"There's people who just can't afford Christmas," Goold said.
Some families get sponsored by businesses, she added. "We'll provide businesses with the family and they provide the hamper for them."
Hampers include a week's worth of food as well as a turkey and all the trimmings for the special Christmas meal. Gifts are provided for the children and if there are donated items available,  small gifts are included for the parents as well, Goold said.
St. Vincent's is looking for donations of non-perishable food items and toys to be included in the hampers.
Those looking to re-gift new items that perhaps are sitting in the back of the closet would be most appreciated by St. Vincent de Paul and will be gratefully accepted and donated as part of the hamper items, Goold said.
"We all get candles and soaps we might not want," she added. "And those would be most welcome."
The society's volunteer wish list includes people to pack the hampers on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary's gym, 1088 Gillett St., and final packing and delivery will be on Dec. 21 and volunteers for packing and delivery on that day are needed, as well.
Goold asks any volunteers to register before hand so they know they have enough people.
To volunteer call Randy at the Drop-In Centre, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 250-565-7906.
The Salvation Army is accepting hamper applications every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Nov. 30 at 3500 18th Ave. People are asked to bring with them identification, proof of address, proof of income and shelter expenses.
Last year, the Salvation Army provided 350 hampers and expect the same number of applicants  this year.
Anyone can apply for a hamper, including single people, families and seniors and will receive a food hamper and gifts for the children. The organization also provides the Adopt-a-Family option where businesses can provide a specific hamper to those in need.
The Salvation Army requires about 100 volunteers to process the applications, accept hamper donations and assemble hampers.
People who have been approved to receive a hamper can pick them up at the designated time between Dec. 18 and 20.
Donations of food for the food bank, toys for children and gifts for teens are most welcome.
The Salvation Army purchases all the food for its Christmas hampers in bulk so all things are equal, Terra Laflamme, community ministries worker and Christmas program coordinator, said.

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