We here at the Gazette look back at last year and still marvel at how Christmas was saved for so many North Island families.
For a while, it was touch and go and we weren’t sure whether the Gazette’s Hamper Fund would even be able to continue beyond 2010.
There’s no question the North Island Gazette’s Hamper Fund has helped thousands of families during the past 31 years, but the fact is we were nearly out of the Christmas business last year.
To explain: each year the fund is seeded by a small amount of cash from the year before.
That money is vital to make up any shortfalls that could occur and when we were ready to kick-off the 2010 season, we were alarmed at the little bit of money sitting in our non-profit bank account.
We had to call our first board meeting of the season to discuss and decide on a game plan because the situation was dire.
The main questions were: what if we don’t have enough donations? How will we pay for the all the food and toys?
We had to make some hard and tough decisions that year.
We didn’t want the Hamper Fund to slip away on us but something needed to be done because we knew if 2010 was donation poor, the Fund might just be forced to fold.
We could see quite clearly the children who would be disappointed and the tables without a traditional Christmas dinner.
We had to come up with options to save the fund.
For starters we made the hard decision to lower the age of children eligible to receive gifts from 16 and under to 12 and under.
We also had to cut the amount of items that made up a hamper to providing just the basics for a Christmas dinner.
For example we took the normal donation of 10-lbs of potatoes and reduced it to five-lbs.
Several similar cuts were made to lower the grocery bills.
We knew some recipients would be disappointed, but we had to do it in order for the Hamper Fund to spread what it had.
But we made it and once again are looking for your help — we want to make our 32nd year the best ever for the people who need help. Our Hamper tins will soon be just about everywhere on the North Island.
Please help us help others to have a very Merry Christmas.
Sandy Grenier is the publisher of the North Island Gazette