Gerry Lambert tows daughter Maya and Tim Olesen as they help collect toys during the Reinforest Riders Equestrian club's annual Hamper Fund toy ride in Port McNeill Sunday night.

Gerry Lambert tows daughter Maya and Tim Olesen as they help collect toys during the Reinforest Riders Equestrian club's annual Hamper Fund toy ride in Port McNeill Sunday night.

Hamper home stretch

With delivery day fast approaching, contributions to the Gazette Hamper Fund are picking up steam across the North Island.

With delivery day fast approaching, contributions to the Gazette Hamper Fund are picking up steam across the North Island.

And local residents continue to find creative and entertaining ways to encourage those contributions, even if it means braving some of the harshest conditions the season can throw at them.

Last Sunday evening, the Reinforest Riders equestrian club battled the leading edge of a winter storm to hold its annual Toy Ride through the streets of town. While overall contributions were off slightly from a year ago, a number of Port McNeill residents braved the elements to donate toys and non-perishable food items.

A rather more comfortable time was had by Barb O’Connor and her 20/20 ladies group in Port Hardy, who gathered for their annual donation and present-wrapping party at her home earlier Sunday.

This year’s hampers will be delivered by volunteers on Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with water taxi delivery to Kingcome Inlet scheduled for Dec. 19.

Sunday proved a particularly busy day for the Hamper Fund’s partners. Tsakis FC of Fort Rupert held its annual Christmas Bazaar, which included collections for the Hamper Fund.

Also in the past week, the staff of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations held a Hamper auction of gift baskets prepared by employees

And the new bingo committee in Tsulquate brought in multiple bags of food and toys gathered through its weekly games.

More events are coming this week:

• The North Island Eagles hockey program hosts its annual Alumni Benefit Game Saturday, Dec. 13, featuring the midget team against a group of the program’s alumni. Suggested admission for this afternoon of fun is two non-perishable food items or a new, unwrapped toy suitable for ages 0-12, and a cash donation jar will also be available.

• The Port McNeill Lions Club, which is instrumental in the Hamper Fund’s efforts in Port McNeill, Zeballos, Woss, Kingcome Inlet and Guilford Island, will host its annual Turkey Bingo event Saturday as well, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Lions Hall.