The season of giving is fast approaching and a local not-for-profit organization is working to provide relief to those who are less fortunate over the holidays.
The Alliston Lions’ Christmas Hamper Campaign is back and its red barrels of happiness are set up at local churches, banks and businesses, where non-perishable food and toys for kids up to 12 can be donated.
The annual Stuff-a-Bus program will be returning to Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Giant Tiger in Alliston on November 28, while the annual Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy Drive with the Nottawasaga OPP, will take place at the same locations on December 5, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
"We're grateful to the community and it's been extremely supportive to the Alliston Lions and our Lions Christmas Hamper program in years past,” said Alliston Lions President, Mike Jerry. “Whatever anyone is willing to contribute or donate is gratefully received."
Last year the Lions looked after 172 families and 275 children through the hamper program and those numbers are likely to rise this year as more people face financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jerry noted.
"We're going to give away as much food as we can collect,” he said. "We do have some concerns as far as the amount that we will receive this year because the economy is just brutal and we understand that more and more families are struggling."
In addition to a damaged economy and high unemployment impacting donations, Jerry said local schools, which always provide a significant amount of food, are unable to donate non-perishables this year due to COVID-19.
"Some schools are providing different outlets as far as donating gift cards or monetary donations, so whatever we can receive we're extremely grateful for and it will be distributed,” he said.
Those in need of assistance over the holidays can register today or on December 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Alliston Lions Club (60 Boyne Street), with access available from the bottom entrance.
Those seeking assistance that are not currently members of the Good Shepherd Food Bank require a referral by a church, school or social service agency.
Depending on the quantity of food donated this year, preference will be given to families, those with a disability, and seniors over 65, but the Alliston Lions are hoping to help everyone in need.
Jerry said one of the best parts of assisting with the program is seeing the reactions from recipients who receive the hampers.
“It is just an extremely moving experience when we deliver or provide the food hampers to the less fortunate,” he told the Times. "Not the physical reaction but also the relief that these people see from what would normally be a tough Christmas season. It’s making it a better Christmas season."
Delivery of the hampers will run from December 17 to 22 and they can also be picked up during that period at the Alliston Lions Club.
Sam Odrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times