Organizers of the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper program are seeing a staggering increase in need this year.
Jen Temple, a member of the hamper program’s organizing committee, said those requesting their services has gone up 140 per cent.
“There is a huge increase in need,” Temple said. “Last year we had 250 kids registered for the hamper program and this year we now have 600. When I first heard the numbers, I was blown away. I couldn’t even believe it and thought, ‘how the heck are we going to do this?’”
Run by the Cloverdale Community Kitchen, the hamper program didn’t have any toy drives scheduled yet, Temple revealed.
To help boost toy donations, Temple approached her friend Annie Christiaens, owner of the Heart in Cloverdale.
“I phoned her and said, ‘We have to do something to figure this out.’” Temple explained. “Annie was thinking about the same thing, so we came up with the idea of a toy drive.”
Temple also reached out to Salish Secondary and they agreed to help, as well. So Temple and Christiaens came up with the idea of a three-pronged toy drive: two days up at Hillcrest Village Shopping Centre and one at Salish.
Nick Moschonas, from Eclipse Creations Contracting, works with Christiaens. Moschonas wanted to help too and offered the use of his cube van to pack in the toys. The goal, Temple said, is to now pack the cube van each day at Hillcrest.
“We’ll be right in front of Save-On-Foods,” said Temple. “On the 8th and the 10th, we’ll be doing the toy drive and right in the middle, the 9th, is our annual RCMP pack the police cruiser food drive, so we’ll be doing that.”
In terms of toys, Temple said although there are 600 applications, that doesn’t mean 600 families. It could mean several kids from one family, so the toys must cover a wide age range.
“We always have a lot of toys for kids under six,” added Temple. “Where we always end up short is with teenagers. There isn’t always a lot for older kids.”
She said people can donate cash or gift cards for older children and tax receipts will be issued for anything over $20.
“I just hope the community can come together to support this,” she said. “There is so much more need this year than other years. The Kitchen does such great work and I just hope everyone can support this too.”
Save-On-Foods is located at 18710 Fraser Hwy in Hillcrest Village Shopping Centre. The toy drive takes place at Hillcrest on Dec. 8 from 4 to 8 p.m., on Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and at Salish Secondary after school on Dec. 6.
The RCMP’s “Pack the PC” food drive will take place at Hillcrest on Dec. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m.