Busy yet successful was the overall sentiment emerging from the various Christmas campaigns wrapping up for the year in the Comox Valley.
“It was really fantastic,” said Gerry Smith, co-ordinator of the 2010 Earl Naswell Christmas Dinner, which not only provided dinner to just over 200 people at the Filberg Centre Dec. 25, but gave 100 takeaway dinners, toys and bags filled with clothes and basic necessities.
“It’s always a surprise how many people show up ... but people were very appreciative,” added Smith. “The volunteers are amazing; they give up Christmas day for the needy.”
He noted chef Andrew Martin of Toto Restaurant in Comox brought volunteer staff with him as well, adding, “He did a fantastic job. We got so many compliments (about the food).”
Although last year Smith said they hosted between 225 and 250 individuals for the annual dinner, he saw a huge increase in the takeout dinners. He credits other co-ordinators Rob James and Pam Morrison for their help, as well as the donors who contribute food and money, from grocery stories to individuals.
For Pamela Jolin at First Insurance who organizes Secret Santa, 2010 provided the highest amount of children registered and gifts distributed.
“It was a very busy year. We had about the same number of donations, but we had to buy a lot more (gifts) this year,” she noted.
The organization had 675 children registered, approximately 100 more than the previous year, Jolin added.
Although planning the campaign begins in the middle of November, Jolin said she hopes on starting earlier next year, particularly if the number of registrants continues to increase.
“I’m really pleased with community involvement,” she noted.
At the Comox Valley Food Bank, president Jeff Hampton echoed a similar sentiment, noting during the Christmas season many people supported the food bank.
“(The season) went well — a lot of people contributed, and everyone was generous,” he said.
Hampton did add although donations were high, so were the demands for food.
“(The numbers) are increasing. More and more people are coming in who haven’t been in before unfortunately,” he added.
As for the coming months, Hampton said the organization “probably is in good shape for January and February. It generally does drop off soon after; we’ll wait and see.”
Throughout his 27 years of volunteering at the food bank, Hampton did add, “This year is the most generous I’ve seen people in a long time.”