Ian Kalina

Ian Kalina

Nanaimo steps up, fills hampers, fills need

NANAIMO – Hamperville sees 21 per cent increase in donations this past Christmas.

Charity organizations are counting donations against demand for help over the holiday season.

Once again food, toys and cash donations came in from all quadrants of the community to help families who found there just wasn’t enough to go around this Christmas.

The News Bulletin’s Coins for Kids drive was one of the fundraisers some charitable organizations could cash in on.

Coins for Kids, formerly known as Pennies for Presents, helps the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive purchase gifts to put under Christmas trees for children of Nanaimo’s financially disadvantaged families. The drive also supports the Salvation Army Christmas food hamper program and the Boys and Girls Club in Nanaimo.

The 2013 campaign, which ran Nov. 21 to Dec. 19, raised $4,135, just about half of the hoped-for $8,000 from the first year pennies were pulled from circulation and the campaign switched to collecting higher denominations. More than $8,100 was raised in 2012 and more than $6,900 was raised in 2011.

The take from 2013 still generated cheques for $1,333, for each of the organizations it supports.

“Every little last bit of it helps, for sure,” said Sheila Bonwick, Great Nanaimo Toy Drive chairwoman.

This year more businesses came on board to support the toy drive with cash and gifts. Woodgrove Centre, Nanaimo Fire Rescue stations and other locations maintained their donation drop off boxes as well. Cash donations help buy presents for age groups, such as children up to two-years-old and teenagers, that see fewer donations.

The 2013 toy drive put presents under the trees of 1,530 children of 729 families in Nanaimo.

Ian Kalina, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island executive director, said the money also helps staff at the Nanaimo club buy a combination of gifts and gift cards for some of its underprivileged clients who can use a little extra help over the holiday season.

Salvation Army envoy Dawne Anderson also said the Salvation Army appreciates all the support the community can muster.

“If we didn’t get this money, it means there are things that help families we wouldn’t be able to do,” Anderson said.

The Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Kettle Drive is its single biggest fundraiser of the year. In Nanaimo the 2013 drive raised $208,000, surpassing the $200,000 raised in 2012.

Hamperville produced 2,449 food hampers, up from 2,160 hampers in 2012.

“That was a 13-per cent increase,” said Jim Duddridge, Hamperville spokesman. “In terms of bodies, actual people, we went from 4,811 last year to 5,499 this year, which is a 14-percent increase as well.”

About 2,000 of those helped were children.

Hampers were filled with nearly 61,600 kg of donated food – including 650 donated turkeys – which represented a 21-per cent increase in donations and a surplus in redeemable grocery vouchers, which can be carried over until the next holiday season.

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