Christmas hamper program could end without new committee

The future is uncertain for a long running program that provides more than 125 people the food needed for a Christmas dinner.


The future is uncertain for a long running program that provides more than 125 people the food needed for a Christmas dinner.

The current board of the South Similkameen Christmas Hamper Committee is stepping down, a letter to the editor received by the Review from the committee stated.

“It is now time to pass on the torch,” the letter read.

Joan Popovich, one of the first members of the committee said it’s time new blood takes over the important program.

“It’s been almost 15 years. It’s time to give up the reins,” she said in an interview Tuesday with the Review. “I still remember that first year. It’s been wonderful giving back to the community in this way but it’s time someone else took over.”

Her reason for stepping down at this time is that she wants to spend a relaxed Christmas season with family without all the extra work.

“It is quite busy. I would like to have a Christmas and spend time with family,” she said.

The board is hoping someone or a group of volunteers will step forward sometime over the summer so they have time to organize the hamper program starting in the fall.

The South Similkameen Christmas Hamper Committee was started about 14 years ago when a need was recognized.

Many families and individuals go without a Christmas meal each year because they can’t afford it.

“When it started out it was actually churches doing it and it got away from that over time,” she said.

About 125 individuals and families receive a hamper each year through the program.

That number has remained fairly steady since the program started.

“What most people don’t realize is that it isn’t just young families. It’s a lot of seniors that are on fixed incomes that just can’t afford that extra,” she said.

A hamper includes everything needed for a special Christmas meal.

Over the years methods of distributing food has differed. Some years vouchers and a small hamper were handed out while other years it was just hampers made up of donated food.

This past year vouchers only were given out so people could pick what they wanted for their special meal.

Currently the committee works with just three board members – president, secretary, and treasurer. Several other volunteers attend meetings on a casual basis.

The committee usually starts meeting in October and meetings become more regular as Christmas approaches.

Popovich said the season can get quite hectic getting closer to the big day but that most of the elements of running the hamper program run fairly smoothly after all these years.

Anyone interested in helping organize the program for the 2015 holiday season is encouraged to contact Popovich or Ruby Cavenaille.