Preparations to fill all 598 Gazette Christmas Hamper applications received this year are underway.
Toys and food are being sorted by volunteers at the Gazette’s Christmas Hamper Command Centre in the Thunderbird Mall, and donations are rolling in to the Gazette office every day.
$15,400 has been collected at the office so far, and that does not include the money donated online through the blackpress4good crowdfunding website, or the $3,143 that was donated at the Dec. 7 Port Hardy Rotary Lunch, with the Rotary club donating an additional $2,500.
The final total for rotary donations will be calculated once a few more impending donations trickle in.
Many volunteers have been busy getting everything ready, from sorting applications to buying and collecting items needed for the hamper, and everything in-between.
This year there are 400 children needing presents in Port Hardy alone.
“It’s a well-oiled machine,” said Lisa Greer when she brought a girls youth group from Upstreet Baptist Church in Port Hardy to help wrap presents on the evening of Dec. 6.
The girls from the youth group wrapped presents for over 100 families in the span of a couple of hours.
“At first I panicked,” said Gazette Hamper Fund President, Sandy Grenier, at the rotary lunch, noting she was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of gifts to wrap. “But with the crew we have, we are probably going to get it done tomorrow. We even ran out of presents to wrap, and I had to go buy more.”
The fundraising goal for many years has been $30,000, but because of the rising cost of food and the growing need, the financial goal has been raised to $40,000.
“We have had to dip into a surplus that we have had for the past two years,” said Grenier.
She also noted the biggest change this year is that the Gazette is not taking late applications.
Applications and notice of the Nov. 30 deadline ran in every issue of the Gazette for the month of November, and notice was posted on our website northislandgazette.com, as well as on the Gazette’s Facebook page.
“Last year we had more than 170 applications after the deadline,” said Grenier. “Can we say no? It’s a hard thing to do.”
However, Gazette staff has been informing late applicants of other services in Port Hardy that can help them during December. Harvest Food Bank will have hampers that may include a turkey available each Friday for the month of December, except Dec. 29.
The Salvation Army Christmas lunch will also be served on Dec. 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Deliveries this year will be made on Sunday, Dec. 17 to make sure applicants get the freshest bread, with Christmas still a week away from the delivery date.
However, Sointula residents will be receiving their hampers on Dec. 16, as the Sointula Co-op will be closed on Sunday.