Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay

Christmas hamper program kicks off

Hamperville needs more than 600 volunteers this year.

TWO local charities have come together once again to help feed those in need during the Christmas season.

Loaves and Fishes and the Salvation Army kicked off the 13th annual Hamperville Christmas assistance program on Friday at the Loaves and Fishes warehouse.

Hamperville provides the less fortunate with the ability get food at Christmas time by creating their own hamper. Individuals are able to register and fill their hamper at any of the nine depots located in Nanaimo.

This year the two organizations are expecting to help 2,500 families, or roughly 6,000 individuals this year. As a result, Hamperville needs to receive 60,000 kilograms of food donations, raise $40,000 and find 600 volunteers.

Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes executive director, said volunteers are badly needed for the week before Christmas.

“We have expanded the number of hours that people can pick food up to make it more accessible and with more hours, we need more volunteers,” he said.

Kim Maandag, employee relation and volunteer coordinator with the Salvation Army, said when it comes to donations, Hamperville needs foods high in protein.

“We need the necessities that people can create meals with,” she said. “We get a surprising amount of smoked oysters. Our clients don’t really want them though.”

Over the years, Hamperville has made changes, including implementing a system that allows clients to build a hamper rather than receiving a pre-made hamper and the creation of a Nanaimo-wide depot system.

Hamperville now no longer provides clients with turkeys, a decision that was made as a result of logistics.

“A lot of our clients travel by bus,” Maandag said. “Lugging a turkey home by bus was problematic.”

Instead, clients receive a gift card, which Maandag said provides individuals with more choice.

“They can get a ham or a turkey or whatever they want,” she said.

Volunteers are able to sign up by visiting www.hampervillenanaimo.org.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com