The 35th annual Gazette Hamper Fund is in full swing, with numerous groups across the North Island collecting donations of food and toys through both scheduled events and ongoing displays.
The Hamper Fund, which annually provides Christmas hampers of food and toys to needy North Island families and individuals, has also gotten the occasional boost from an impromptu, unexpected source.
Eagle View Elementary School student Kirsten Strussi donated $5 last Friday that she had found on school grounds during recess. Strussi said she turned over the money to the duty supervisor, and school officials said if it was not claimed in one week, she could keep it. When it was returned to her after that week, Strussi promptly contributed it to the fund.
The next night, in Port McNeill, Chris Sharpe of the North Island Timing Association turned a donated poster by Port Hardy photographer Ken Hutton into a $250 Hamper Fund donation. Hutton intended to donate the poster to NITA supporters with Port McNeill’s Volunteer Fire Department. Sharpe, for the second straight year, instead called for an auction of the poster and ran the bidding up to $250 in his wife’s name before “winning” the auction. Boni Sharpe then passed the prize on to the fire department.
Toys in the attic
The first large donation of toys was turned in last week by The Bargain! Shop of Port McNeill, which filled two gift-wrapped shopping carts in the first week and a half of its annual Toy Drive. Store manager Michelle Monk said the response has the store nearly halfway to its goal of $1,000 for the 2014 drive, and has already exceeded last year’s entire collection.
Thanks also to BC Liquor Stores on the North Island, which is including the Hamper Fund along with other local charities in its annual season Share Bear promotion. Customers may contribute at the till to purchase a stuffed Christmas bear, and a matching bear will be donated to one of several North Island beneficiaries, including the Hamper Fund.
Fun and fundraising
A number of events are coming up in the next few weeks that will give residents a chance to contribute to the Hamper Fund while getting some entertainment or value in return:
On Dec. 7, the annual Tsakis FC Garage Sale in Fort Rupert will offer great bargains and food while benefitting the Hamper Fund. That same evening, the Reinforest Riders equestrian club of Hyde Creek/Port McNeill will hold its second annual Toy Ride through the streets of Port McNeill, building on the response of last year’s inaugural effort. Residents are invited to step outside to view the seasonally decorated horses and contribute toys and non-perishable food items, which will be collected by a following support vehicle. The horses and riders will gather at 7:30 p.m. at Gate House Community Theatre, where hot chocolate will be served.
On Dec. 12, the North Island Eagles hockey club will host its annual Hamper Fund benefit game between the midget team and alumni, beginning at 3 p.m. at Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill. Suggested admission is two non-perishable food items or a toy, and cash donations are also accepted.
The next evening, Dec. 13, the Port McNeill Lions Club, longtime partners in the Hamper Fund, will hold its annual Turkey Bingo event at the Lions Hall.
If you or your organization have scheduled an event you’d like the public to know about, let us know and we’ll include it in our Hamper Fund event schedule. Call 250-949-6225, fax 250-949-7655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gazette Hamper Fund applications can be found on this page and at the Gazette office. Deadline to apply is tomorrow, Nov. 28. Hampers will be delivered on Dec. 20.