With the dissolution of the Christmas hamper program more than 125 people might be without a holiday meal this year.
Joan Popovich, a longstanding member of the hamper committee said no one or group came forward to volunteer with the program that has been operational in its current form for about 15 years.
“We’ve heard absolutely nothing. No one has come forward to take that on at all. Not even any inquiries that I know of at this point. We’ve officially dissolved,” she said during a telephone interview last week.
Popovich says the committee handed out between 100 to 130 hampers ever year. The majority were to single people, many on disability, but there was also a high number of young families that received hampers.
About 15 dedicated volunteers would help each year with the program. Volunteers were needed for everything from intake of applications to collection of food and at one time distribution.
“We tried a variety of things over the years to minimize the workload. At one time we delivered all the hampers and then in later years we had people come pick them up,” she said. “It always felt like we were two steps forward and three steps back.”
The idea of the hamper program was to provide a meal for Christmas dinner and some food for throughout the week. Each hamper consisted of a turkey or ham depending on the receivers taste and the rest of the vegetables to make a festive meal. There would also be bread and condiments so the leftovers could be eaten. Candy was also included.
At one time presents were bought for children through an Angel Tree at the CIBC but that proved too much work for volunteers and was impossible to organize along with the hampers.
“It was a wonderful feeling to be able to help the people that needed the help but at the same time your family and your home gets behind. I never did any Christmas baking for all those years. I struggled to make the time for everything that needed to be done and to have Christmas with family,” she said.
Popovich said committee members are still willing to help with advice if any group wants to take the program over.
“I do hope someone or some group will come forward to assist those that are in need during the Christmas season. It really is a gift of love basically.”