Volunteers loaded 600 Christmas hampers last year at the old St. Joseph Hospital site. File photo

Volunteers loaded 600 Christmas hampers last year at the old St. Joseph Hospital site. File photo

Comox Valley Christmas hamper program needs a space

The Sharing the Christmas Spirit Hamper Program is in full swing — its 31st year in the Comox Valley — but it needs a space to organize and roll out the totes.

“We’re very much alive and well this year,” said Rob Phillips, who co-ordinates the program along with Annette Bowden.

Despite COVID, school districts 71 and 93 are large contributors to family sponsorships. Last year, students accounted for about half (220) of the family hampers. So far, they’re at about 135.

“A bigger concern right now is that we still don’t have a staging area,” Phillips said. “We have a total of 1,300 snap-lid totes, so when those are full, they’re going to occupy some space.”

Phillips and volunteers will pick up totes at schools from Dec. 16-18

The program needs a minimum of 3,000 square feet, preferably 4,000-5,000. Phillips and Bowden were to appeal to Courtenay council Nov. 9.

Normally space is donated, but he said they are willing to pay a nominal rent, and hydro/utility costs.

“We have a cadre of volunteers who’ve been doing it since day one, some of them since ’89. A lot of them are ex- or current military.”

Ken and Fay Jones still co-ordinate the volunteers.

“We wouldn’t be having the same program without those two. They live it all year long,” Phillips said. “It runs like a well-oiled machine. Same hardcore group is there every year…It’s a great testimonial to our community. Our conservative estimate is that it’s about $100,000-plus every year that the community puts into this program.”

The program offers family and single hampers. The latter is one or two adults with no children. The estimated cost to fill each hamper is $50 per person.

Last year, 600 families in need received hampers. This year’s goal is 450.

Volunteer drivers will deliver the hampers on Dec. 22.

The program needs families to register for a hamper, as well as sponsors for families and donations.

The Sharing the Christmas Spirit Hamper Program program hotline is 250-334-4913.

Raffle tickets are on sale at Royal LePage, 121-750 Comox Rd. The draw date is Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. Call 250-334-4913. First prize is a weekend package to a resort in Tofino.

FMI: christmashamper.ca or email sharingthechristmaspirit1988@gmail.com

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