Christmas Hamper Challenge a chance to give

·2 min read

Those looking to get into the spirit of giving can donate items, cash or their time to this year’s Christmas Hamper Challenge.

The Christmas Hamper Challenge is a yearly initiative to provide donations to Strathmore and Wheatland County families in need. The challenge started in 1981 after a group called the Strathmore Seniors Happy Gang approached Wheatland FCSS to provide for one deserving family. The organization received charitable status in 1985, becoming the Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society.

Since then, the number of hampers has increased yearly. In 2019, the organization distributed 252 hampers, including 314 toy hampers. This year, the organization has budgeted for 260 hampers, said Marilyn Galvin, chairperson.

The project is led entirely by volunteers and relies solely on community donations from throughout Strathmore and Wheatland County. Local businesses, churches, schools and service organizations have helped lead the charge.

The organization provides a hamper wish list of the items most sought for donation. These include common non-perishables, toiletries, and laundry and dish soaps for the main hamper, as well as items such as toys, books, art supplies and warm clothing for the girl’s and boy’s (newborns to 17 years old) hampers. The wish list items are available on the organization’s website.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers helping to sort donations must sign up for shifts, rather than just show up to work, and sorting stations will also be arranged to ensure physical distancing.

“It’s going to be different because of all the distancing and being sure that we know who’s coming and is in the building at all times,” said Galvin.

Money donations are also encouraged. This year, because of the pandemic, e-transfers are the preferred method of payment, though cheques will be accepted.

Cheques are payable to the Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society, Box 2492, Strathmore, T1P 0H3.

The organization uses the cash donations to buy some of items that it does not receive.

“One thing I would say that would be wonderful, if people are donating toys, the sooner the better,” said Galvin.

Residents wanting to apply for a hamper need to call 403-934-2266 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. For more information visit christmashampersociety.com or email christmashampersociety@gmail.com. Alternatively, call Wheatland FCSS at 403-934-5335 or Strathmore FCSS at 403-934-9090.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times