North Island Gazette publisher Sandy Grenier points to a Christmas Fund story in a 1981 issue of the paper.

Hamper drive begins

During the first year of the North Island Gazette’s Hamper Fund, nearly $3,000 was raised so more than two dozen families could enjoy a better Christmas.

During the first year of the North Island Gazette’s Hamper Fund, nearly $3,000 was raised so more than two dozen families could enjoy a better Christmas.

That was 31 years ago when the annual drive was known as the Gazette Christmas Fund.

In 1980, donated cash went to “buy turkeys, clothes, gifts and groceries for 30 mostly single parent families facing Christmas with virtually nothing,” read a 1981 Gazette story, written by an unidentified writer who noted 123 children were amidst the families helped. “It may be a tougher year for many of us,” the story continued, “but only a few of us are all alone and trying to figure out how to provide Christmas for small children with nothing more than $19.”

While times have changed, the need has not.

Last year, the Fund collected nearly $45,000 to deliver more than 500 hampers to those in need on the North Island, from Sointula to Woss and all areas in between.

It’s expected at least the same number of families will need a hand this Christmas.

We know cash is tight and there are many good and deserving organizations vying for your charity dollars.

But there is something about Christmas that strikes an emotional chord for many of us.

I fondly remember Christmases past with my family. We didn’t have a lot of cash and I’m sure my parents went in the hole many times to see their kids’ faces light up at the sight of presents stuffed under the tree.

And while I’m not advocating going into debt, it is my truest wish that every child’s face could glow with the same kind of anticipatory wonder Christmas morning.

I realize, of course, there are many, many others who, for reasons too many to comprehend, didn’t enjoy what I did.

This is an appeal to you as well, because I’m sure you want children today to have it better than you did.

The Hamper Fund doesn’t put extravagance under the tree, but it gives more than the basics.

“Hampers are put together with knowledge of the age and sex of each child so that what is available may be distributed equitably … (and) for this reason the most useful donation to the fund is money,” read the 1981 story.

That’s one thing that has not changed — along with toys for the children, hampers contain all the fixings for a traditional Christmas dinner, plus a little more.

Join us in giving some of what we have to help those with so little.

Our collection buckets will be out soon, so please drop off non-perishable food, toys or cash at any number of locations around the North Island. Buckets for cash donations will be set up at various North Island locations starting Nov. 1.

Applying for a hamper:

Applications can be picked up at the Gazette office, 7305 Market St., or by clipping an application from the pages of the Gazette and mailing it in or dropping it off at the Gazette.

The application will also soon be available by logging onto www.northislandgazette.com. Just download the application, fill it out and get it to us, either by mail or by dropping it off.

Applications for those living on reserves are available at their respective band offices.