For 20 years, the Ashcroft & Area Community Resource Society’s Christmas Hamper Fund has been helping residents of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge, Walhachin, the Ashcroft and Bonaparte Indian Bands, and the surrounding area by providing hampers containing all the fixings for a Christmas dinner, plus extra food and goodies, to those in need.
The program is now gearing up for another Christmas, and Christmas Hamper committee Chair Esther Lang anticipates that it will be another busy year as far as demand goes.
“When I first took over, we gave out 130 hampers,” she says, “but it’s been increasing. Last year we distributed 167 hampers.
“We’ve had fires and floods, and while a lot of these things mean that people temporarily need a hand up, sometimes it’s more long-term.” She notes that the recent mill closures and curtailments in the area might create even more need this year, but adds that they can never guess how many applications they will get in a given year.
“It’s a lot of by guess and by golly. We didn’t anticipate 167 requests last year.”
The Christmas Hamper committee is looking to partner with area businesses, industries, and community members to help provide food and funds for this year’s hampers. Non-perishable food items are welcome, as are monetary donations, and businesses are encouraged to have a box where people can place food donations. A list of participating businesses will be on the Ashcroft & Area Christmas Hampers Facebook page.
After Remembrance Day, the grocery cart at Safety Mart in Ashcroft — where shoppers can leave food donations for the Elizabeth Fry Society Food Bank, which is separate from the Christmas Hamper Fund — accepts donations for the Hamper Fund for a month. Donations can also be dropped off at the Ashcroft Community Hall between 9 a.m. and noon on Dec. 18 and 19.
The cut-off for applications is on Dec. 4. They can be made at the following locations:
Ashcroft (E. Fry office. Bancroft Street): Monday, Nov. 18 to Tuesday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (except Food Bank days on Nov. 20 and Dec. 4; applications can be made from noon to 2:30 p.m.)
Cache Creek: Tuesday, Nov. 19 (Cache Creek Community Hall, downstairs), 1 to 3 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 20 (Equality Project, Stage Road), noon to 2 p.m.
Clinton (Health Centre, Cariboo Highway): Thursday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Nov. 22, 1 to 3 p.m.
Spences Bridge (Cook’s Ferry Band office): Tuesday, Nov. 19 and Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1 to 3 p.m.
Bonaparte Band (Health Centre): Tuesday, Nov. 19, noon to 2 p.m.
Applications must be made in person, and applicants must bring photo ID and proof of residency.
Lang says that volunteers are needed for sorting food and packing the hampers from Dec. 18 to 20, from 9 a.m. to noon each day at the Ashcroft Community Hall. The hampers will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 21, with home delivery to all applicants unless applicants want to pick them up. Hampers can be picked up at the Ashcroft Community Hall and at the Clinton Fire Hall.
Cheques — made payable to Ashcroft & Area CRS/Christmas Hampers — can be mailed to CRS Christmas Hampers, P.O. Box 1137, Ashcroft, B.C. V0K 1A0. A tax receipt for income tax purposes will be issued by return mail. Any excess funds will be used for community projects as necessary, and any excess food will be donated to the E. Fry Food Bank.
If you would like to donate or volunteer, contact Lang at (250) 453-9085, or email email@example.com.