Hamper program helps out Indigenous families in Yukon

·3 min read
Courtney Wheelton, the manager of the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate's nutrition program, says 400 hampers were given out to eligible Indigenous families by staff over the weekend. (Submitted by Courtney Wheelton - image credit)
Courtney Wheelton, the manager of the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate's nutrition program, says 400 hampers were given out to eligible Indigenous families by staff over the weekend. (Submitted by Courtney Wheelton - image credit)

The Yukon First Nation Education Directorate is hosting its second Winter Break Hamper event for Indigenous families with children under 18 years old.

Four hundred hampers were distributed this past weekend to eligible Whitehorse-based Indigenous families, with about 200 people coming on Friday alone. About 20 to 30 YFNED staff were on site each day helping out.

Courtney Wheelton, the manager of the directorate's nutrition program, said another 400 hampers are expected to be given out next weekend.

"It's been really wonderful," Wheelton said. "There's been some great connections."

One family even dropped off some peppermint tea for the staff at the hamper event, and some team members dressed up as elves.

"Everyone has been so happy and excited. It's really nice to connect with families," she said. "It's just been a lot of fun and is really, really starting that holiday spirits and a great way to see each other during COVID, and to connect before the holidays."

Submitted by Courtney Wheelton
Submitted by Courtney Wheelton

People can register for the hampers through the organization's Eventbrite system (the link is on the group's website). The hampers can be picked up via drive-through at Shipyards Park. There are more than enough hampers to go out to all Indigenous families in Whitehorse, she said.

YFNED is working with each Yukon First Nation in the territory's rural communities to distribute hampers as well, she added.

Wheelton said the hamper program guarantees "good, healthy food" for the recipients of the hampers over the winter break, which is a continuous service from YFNED's meal and snack program that now operates in most Yukon schools.

There are also a few treats in the hampers, Wheelton said.

People will be given three boxes of food, along with some holiday items like a gingerbread house, eggnog, whipping cream and more.

Submitted by Courtney Wheelton
Submitted by Courtney Wheelton

"We just had people who were really excited to get their hampers," she said. "It's been really wonderful to hand out these hampers this weekend and we look forward to seeing the other families come next weekend."

The Winter Break Hamper distribution ends Dec. 12.

Share the Spirit donations down

Share the Spirit donations, run by the Whitehorse Firefighters' Charitable Society, are down by 35 per cent this year.

The organization delivers Christmas gifts and food to families in need across the territory.

Nicholas O'Carrol, who's helping organize the campaign, says this is the first time the society has delivered goods across the whole territory and that's why the society can use all of the donations it can get.

"Getting goods to those places and getting them distributed correctly to where they need to go has been a challenge, but we've just had so many great Yukoners step up," he said. "First responders and others alike … are helping us out with that and it's making a world a difference."

At last count, he said 856 children have been registered, all of whom have been sponsored, O'Carrol said. Right now, the society has the capacity to help upward of 1,000 kids.

O'Carrol said families can sign up for help until Friday. And, he said, Yukoners can make cash donation until Christmas, too.

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