Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund volunteers stop for a photo at the Civic Centre before the doors officially opened for residents to pick up their gift cards. See page 5 for more photos from the day and other donations that were made to the hamper fund this season. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund volunteers stop for a photo at the Civic Centre before the doors officially opened for residents to pick up their gift cards. See page 5 for more photos from the day and other donations that were made to the hamper fund this season. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

SLIDESHOW: North Island Gazette Hamper Fund 2020

Brian Welchman and Roland Shanks started the Gazette Hamper Fund in 1980.

This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gazette Christmas hampers were given out in the form of gift cards, and were delivered/picked up on Saturday, Dec. 12, starting at 10 a.m. sharp.

Brian Welchman and Roland Shanks started the Gazette Hamper Fund in 1980 and formed the society it is today in 1984.

During the first year of the Hamper Fund, nearly $3,000 was raised so more than two dozen families could enjoy a better Christmas. That was 41 years ago when the annual drive then 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. 123 children were among those families helped.

Times have changed since then, but the need has not.

Last year 580 hampers were delivered from Port Alice to Zeballos, including Woss, Alert Bay, Sointula, Gilford Island and Kingcome Inlet. That represented a total of 1667 individuals! The need is definitely great!

COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways. Some community members have had their work hours decreased or lost their jobs entirely.

That is why the Gazette Hamper Fund is here, to help out with some of the basics over the holidays.

The financial goal this year was $35,000, which was achieved thanks to the usual donations that come rolling in during this time of the year. From businesses big and small, individuals, kids donating their birthday money, hockey teams, churches, schools, First Nation Bands, non-profit organizations and groups like the Lions, Lioness and rotary clubs, to mention a few.

In the past 25 years, the hamper fund has raised more than $630,000, which has entirely gone back into North Island communities and their businesses!

The 2020 Hamper board consists of 10 members, and each member usually rounds up a team of volunteers.

“As President of the Gazette Hamper Fund, I would like you all to know how thankful and appreciative we are to all those who continue to help make the hamper fund season a success; the donators, the volunteers and the past and present board members,” said hamper fund president Sandy Grenier.

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