The Carman and District Christmas Cheer Board kicked off this week by sorting, packing and delivering over 150 hamper gifts to families in and around Carman. Over 80 volunteers showed up on Monday, when this photo was taken with the cheer board organizers. (EMILY DISTEFANO)
The Carman and District Christmas Cheer Board is hoping the hampers delivered to families this week make their holiday a little bit brighter.
Around 151 hampers were scheduled to be gifted to families in Carman, Dufferin, Roland, St. Claude, Notre Dame, Haywood, Elm Creek, Sperling and Fannystelle on Wednesday.
Cheer Board Chair Deana Hendricks said she hopes that those who receive the gift of hampers this year feel uplifted and know that the community in general cares for them.
“We’re packing food, but I like to think that we are packing love,” she said. “Cheer Board is a Christian organization and we are giving food at Christmas so people can celebrate the birth of Jesus.”
New schedule a hit
The group tried out a new timetable for sorting, packing and delivering items this year, and Hendricks said it worked out really well.
“We tried a new schedule this year that saw us packing hampers on the evening of day one, rather than the afternoon of day two,” she said on Monday evening. “I was a little nervous because we had a bit of a push today to make sure we were ready to go.”
Hendricks noted that community volunteers, friends of the Cheer Board committee and students from Carman Collegiate and Dufferin Christian School were able to make quick work of the sorting during the day.
“They got our tables up, the boxes out, the labels out, food sorted and ready to go for 7:00,” she said.
And then the wave of community volunteers who arrived at 7:00 p.m. managed to pack all 151 hampers in less than an hour.
“That’s pretty impressive,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks noted that unlike larger Cheer Boards, the Carman chapter doesn’t schedule volunteers throughout the three-day hamper blitz. The committee has no idea how many people are going to show up each year on any given day, but the numbers are always high.
Last year, Hendricks tried to keep track of the number of volunteers through a sign-in sheet. It recorded 220 people, and Hendricks believes there were more who didn’t sign in.
On Monday night alone this year, the sign-in sheet had over 80 signatures.
And with the different schedule this year, a few different businesses, families and individuals were able to get involved.
Increase in need
The numbers of hampers has increased this year, up from just around 135 in 2016. Hendricks said it’s hard to pinpoint the reasons for this, but noted that financial hardship is extremely well hidden in this area.
“It’s a little disconcerting,” she said.
“Our goal would be to put ourselves out of business. If we didn’t ever have to give anyone a Christmas hamper that would be fantastic, but as long as there are people that need them I am so thankful for our community and our generous people and businesses that help us out and give us monetary donations.”
With Dec. 25 just days away, Hendricks said she wishes everyone - whether they are fortunate enough to not need a hamper or not - a very merry Christmas.
“For those people that we are gifting with a hamper this year, I wish that they will find success and joy in the coming year,” she added.
The Cheer Board is still accepting monetary donations to offset extra expenses like items for infants, extra food items for the extra hampers, and more. If you’d like to donate, you can mail Box 1555, Carman, Man., R0G 0J0.