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Hamperville revs up for holiday season

Christmas Hampers Nanaimo is ramping up its annual campaign to supply food hampers over the holidays and beef up food bank supplies well into the new year.

Volunteers with the community organization – formed in 2003 to supply the Salvation Army and Loaves and Fishes food bank - have been gathering food and cash donations since Saturday, but will get down to serious business when Hamperville operations go into full swing for the holiday season with an official kick-off event featuring representatives from the city, community food banks, food suppliers and other local corporate sponsors Monday (Nov. 26) at 11 a.m.

Hamperville gathered 57,000 kg of food last year, plus another $45,000 in cash donations – to buy fresh food items, such as turkeys, chickens, hams, oranges, potatoes, carrots, bread, milk, cheese and eggs – and served more than 5,000 people by distributing 2,300 food hampers.

"Our goal is always to gather enough food to carry the Salvation Army and Loaves and Fishes through into the new year for two to three months," said Jim Duddridge, Hamperville spokesman. "There's always a lag time in January and February. People are giving during Christmas and the push is on and then all of a sudden the donations just plummet."

Hamperville is where donations are gathered counted, weighed, sorted, distributed into hampers and divided equally between the Salvation Army and Loaves and Fishes.

Local businesses and food suppliers partner with Hamperville to help keep costs down. This year Hamperville is gathering and sorting donations at the former Madill building at 2560 Bowen Rd. which has been loaned to the organization by the Laird/Wheaton GM Group.

Volunteers hope to beat last year's figures by about five per cent to 10 per cent to meet the growing need for food in 2012 and early 2013.

"People are very generous in Nanaimo and I have no doubt we'll fill the hampers again this year," Duddridge said.

Duddridge said there is never a shortage of volunteers wanting to help out with the annual food drive. About 300 volunteers are needed to man the operation each year and at least that many again are turned away. Many of the volunteers are hamper recipients themselves.

People and organizations can bring donations directly to Hamperville where volunteers are working Mondays to Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Food donations will be accepted until Dec. 21.

For more information about about Hamperville Nanaimo or to find out how to adopt a family for a food hamper, please visit the organization's web site at http://hampervillenanaimo.org.

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