Donations needed to fill Christmas hampers

Josh Pennell
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A group which delivers Christmas hampers to less fortunate people already has all of its hampers allotted for, but there is a growing number of people still hoping to receive one

Derek Winsor, program director for Bridges to Hope, says there is a need for donations to fill the waiting list for Christmas hampers. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Bridges to Hope is committed to reducing the effects of poverty. The group’s program director, Derek Winsor, says each year it receives donations from the St. John’s Rotary Club and other firms and organizations to do up about 450 hampers. That number of hampers has already been accounted for and a further 60 or more people have called hoping to obtain one.

“We always give people the option to put their name on that list. Whether or not we’re going to be able to fulfil that list is another question,” says Winsor.

Winsor says they reached their capacity for hampers earlier than usual and it’s not just the Christmas hampers that have been more in demand this year, but also their food pantry. Donations made to the food pantry are organized into hampers distributed throughout the year.

By mid-November, the regular food pantry services had surpassed the number of people they helped last year.

“Everything we’ve been doing since and up to the end of the year will be over and above the numbers for 2012.”

Winsor figures members will serve more than 8,000 people with their regular pantry services this year, 20 per cent higher than last year.

“This whole year has been a bit of a surprise. Twenty per cent is a fair amount to be over,” he says.

Christmas hampers are also in high demand from other organizations.

St. Thomas’ Church partakes in a Christmas hamper program. A spokesperson with the church told The Telegram that while the number has been declining in recent years, this year it has stopped its downward trend and the church expects to give out 70 hampers.

The church also had to cancel its annual Christmas dinner this year. Separate from the hampers, this was an event that not only provided people with a meal at the church, but also company for those who might be lonely during the holiday season.

The reason the church had to cancel the event is because it had grown too big for them manage.

Like St. Thomas’ Church, Winsor says Bridges to Hope had seen fewer people in need of Christmas hampers in recent years — until this year, that is.

The people who request a hamper aren’t necessarily the same people the organization sees at their food pantry throughout the year.

“This time of year we see people who we only see once a year. Our Christmas dinner hamper would probably cost you $75 or maybe $100. That’s $100 that they can put towards their kids and that kind of stuff,” Winsor says.

Winsor will need $10,000 to make up Christmas hampers for the people currently on the list and that number is growing every day.

Anybody wishing to make a donation to Bridges to Hope can do so by contacting the organization at 709-722-9225 or obtain more at

Organizations: Rotary Club, The Telegram

Geographic location: St. Thomas

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