Cheryl Keddy Scott and Joe McCarthy loaded up shopping carts at the Foodland grocery store in Vineland this past Wednesday with the help of grocery manager, Jeff Wintemute.
The long list of items, everything from pantry staples to frozen turkeys, would be packed into hampers at the Village of Hope in Lincoln later that day to be delivered to individuals and families needing a hand during the Christmas season.
Village of Hope’s Christmas hamper program ensures Lincoln residents won’t go without at a time of year when putting food on the table and presents under the tree is already a challenge while trying to impart a sense of normalcy, let alone without the pressure of an economic recession.
“Compared to last year, we’re probably double where we were,” says Keddy Scott, Village of Hope’s executive director.
And the number of people calling for help continues to rise as the days count down to Christmas.
Keddy Scott’s phone is constantly dinging with notifications, and at times, bad news. A local employer messaged that afternoon saying their 14 full-time employees, now laid off, had been given Village of Hope pamphlets.
Earlier that day, a family with four children had registered after a parent received a layoff notice, Keddy Scott said.
She worries about what’s to come as Niagara Region teeters on red zone measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Marlena Buxton and Nicole Holland, both Village of Hope employees hired with Niagara Region and federal funding grants, respectively, picked from donated, new toys, clothing and personal-care products, referencing from an individualized wish list.
“It’s so overwhelming, the generosity of the community. I’m blown away,” said Buxton, who enjoys getting to play Santa everyday. “The village definitely steps up.”
The items, along with food, were assembled into hampers and delivered later that day by Buxton and McCarthy, Village of Hope’s community development manager.
In the half-hour it took Buxton and McCarthy to deliver two hampers this past Wednesday, another 13 children were registered by Keddy Scott back at their Jordan Station location.
As of Dec. 16, 2000 adults and children were registered with Village of Hope, Keddy Scott said, accounting for 410 hampers.
As the calls for help continue, staff will be out everyday playing Santa and delivering hope to the Lincoln community — even on Christmas.
“There’s always been one or two families that reach out to me,” Keddy Scott said of some who think they can make it, only to find themselves overwhelmed by depression, anxiety and crying children come Christmas morning.
“It breaks our hearts, but it’s also the best feeling helping out,” she said.
“Please call us, please reach out to us. Know we’re here and we want to help you.”
For more information on how to donate visit linktr.ee/villageofhope or for a helping hand, call 905-562-3003.
Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week