Merritt’s Christmas hampers help 518
Merritt’s Christmas Hamper program provided food and gifts for 518 people in the Nicola Valley in December.
The applications largely came from singles in 2012, with 99 hampers going to single people and another 77 going to single-parent families. Only three hampers went to two-parent families.
Christmas Hamper co-ordinator Linda Monkman said the program is designed to help anybody in financial need.
“There’s no discrimination as to whether you’re single or what,” Monkman said. “It’s just for anyone with a low income.”
Monkman added that the program is also open to the homeless, and the 2012 campaign resulted in hampers going to two homeless teens.
Hampers also went to 34 seniors.
Each package contains a full Christmas dinner, complete with a turkey for families and a ham for singles. The boxes also contain donated gifts, such as hygiene products, mittens and toques.
“We save up everything throughout the year, and anything new, we put in storage,” Monkman said. “We encourage people to bring in mitts and toques and scarves and we try to give the single guys warm clothing.”
Monkman said the 240 applications received in 2012 were fewer than in previous years.
Monkman said she suspects a combination of late applications and people not realizing that the program is open to anyone with financial need is the reason for fewer applications.
“You don’t even have to belong to the food bank — it’s for anyone on a low income,” she said.
The applications for the Christmas Hamper program are available in the fall, around the time the winter outerwear program begins.
Monkman said getting the forms in on time is key to having a successful campaign.
“We always have the applications that come later, and by that time, we’re out of gifts or we’re running out of food,” she said, adding she hopes the forms will come in earlier this year.
Thirteen volunteers dedicated over 1,100 hours to the 2012 Christmas Hamper program.