Hampers hit the mark

Last minute rush of donations helps put the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program over the top.

Youth sports teams like this group joined the army of volunteers helping out the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program last week.

Youth sports teams like this group joined the army of volunteers helping out the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program last week.

Last week’s urgent plea for help by the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program was called off almost as soon as it had gone out, when organizers announced enough donations had come in to meet this year’s need.

A last-minute rush of donations and support saw the program through for another year.

“We’re ok now,” said Kevin Lunder, who leads the non-denominational holiday relief program along with wife Trish. “We’ve been able to complete the hampers.”

Some 800 boxes were assembled by volunteers and ready for pick up on Dec. 15. Recipients included 250 Cloverdale families with 260 children under the age of 18, Lunder said.

The contents differed slightly from previous years, but the organization was able to meet the need.

For the first time in its 20-plus year operation, the holiday relief program for Cloverdale’s neediest residents found itself running short on donations in the food drive’s final week.

On Dec. 12, representatives issued a call for donations and cash from the community, fearing a shortfall of supplies, particularly personal care items, baby food, gifts for teenagers and cash used to purchase perishable and non-perishable food supplies to top up the hampers.

“Some may think of hampers as cute little baskets with a bow on top, but we offer each family several large boxes full in the hopes that it will get them through a couple of months,” program representative Holly Zonneveld said.

Confusion over the donation deadline was to blame for the near shortfall, Lunder said, explaining local high schools – traditionally huge supporters of the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper Program – mistakenly thought hamper pick up day, Dec. 15, was the deadline for donations, because they weren’t yet on break.

Donations from schools were down between 30 and 35 per cent. “It was huge. I started to panic,” he said. “The applications were still rolling in.”

Monetary donations were also down, but fortunately, the situation reversed once the alarm rang out and supporters like Jen Temple of the Trademark Group of Companies, who manages Hillcrest Village Shopping Centre, responded with a corporate donation and other assistance.

“Instead of giving to all their tenants, they made a donation to the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper program,” he said. “And all of a sudden, all of the companies that do

donate, the cheques started rolling in.”

The Surrey RCMP donated an SUV full of donated items, after hosting food drive events, including one at Hillcrest mall, in response to the alarm (See “Hillcrest Patrons Pack Police Car for Local Charity,”)

Also encouraging was the army of volunteers showing up to assemble hampers at the warehouse at Pacific Community Church, ensuring the deadline was met. There were teens, youth sports teams, Brownies, Scouts and Guides helping, along with church groups and even neighbours volunteering with other residents of the same block.

“It was amazing.”

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Cloverdale Reporter