PORT McNEILL—Lyn Skrlac of Port McNeill’s Flower Shoppe spent the summer giving to fight breast cancer everywhere.
Her winter giving is a bit closer to home.
Skrlac has conceived a plan to aid local families in need through the Gazette’s annual Hamper Fund by challenging area businesses and organizations to attract customers and donations through Christmas trees decorated in a variety of themes.
The Hamper Fund provides Christmas hampers of food and toys to needy families across the North Island. It is now in its 32nd year.
Saying she would be ecstatic with a dozen participants when she kicked off the tree campaign with a letter drafted three weeks ago, Skrlac has wildly exceeded that goal with 24 confirmed participants and six “maybes” this week in Port McNeill alone. At least four more organizations in Port Hardy have also taken on the challenge, which ask customers and visitors to donate cash, toys or non-perishable food items when they come to see the trees.
“It’s exciting,” said Skrlac, who for the past three summers has hosted the Bras for a Cause fundraiser to fight breast cancer. “It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations.”
She got help from the Port McNeill Chamber of Commerce, which quickly joined the effort and shared the project with its membership.
Skrlac kicked off the campaign by erecting her own tree, decorated in a “bucket” theme with small tin pails filled with fragrant winter greens and bright holly berries hanging from its branches. A large basket for food and toy donations sits at the base of the tree, and a smaller cup for monetary donations rests nearby.
As incentive for customers or browsers, she is giving away a bucket of greens to each contributor and small candy canes to each child.
“I’ve got about 40 of the buckets to give out, and then I’ll start taking them off the tree,” said Skrlac. “I hope I run out. There’s nothing I’d like better than to have a couple of truckloads of stuff to send off for the hampers.”
The North Island Eagles hockey program has announced its second annual Alumni Hamper Game, which will be played Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.
The hockey game pits current Eagles midget players against Eagles alumni, many of them parents and coaches. Halftime entertainment is also being lined up for the contest — last year it was a brief exhibition contest between beginning-level “peanut” players from Port McNeill and Port Hardy.
Organizers asks fans for an admission donation of a new toy, non-perishable food item or cash.
Additional Eagles program games may also be played as Hamper Fund benefits; stay tuned to this page for details in the coming weeks.
20/20 Hamper vision
A group of Port Hardy women have turned their personal social evening into a shared event that will provide toys to many young North Islanders this holiday season.
The 20/20 club features a group of women who take turns hosting once-a-month gatherings, with each guest contributing $20 to that month’s hostess. This month, hostess Barb O’Connor elected to make her evening a benefit for the Gazette Hamper Fund, and asked her guests to bring wrapped toys in lieu of cash, and has presented the bounty to the fund.