This past Saturday (December 16), local families were given the gift of Christmas, thanks to the long-running Share Your Christmas campaign.
Since 1981, the service club known as the Cochrane Activettes, have helped make Christmas special for families facing financial hardship over the holidays.
Activette, Helen Parnell, says in the early years of Share Your Christmas, the ladies used to shop for the families, wrap the gifts, and deliver to families in need. Fast forward to 2017, the Cochrane Activettes have created an assembly line-like model when it comes to creating the hampers for time efficiency.
Expecting to see demand on par with 2016, the Activettes were surprised to learn there was a substantial increase. “Last year was 207, and it (the demand) wasn’t expected. Our predictions we’re we’d be about the same and we’re not.”
239 families requested a hand up this holiday season; a sure sign of population growth and economic hardship. “I think it’s more the economy, our donations were down, not a lot, but they were slightly down. We’re okay and can cover it, but that’s why I think it’s the economy.”
Although hampers have gone out, donations of non-perishables and cash are still needed and required. “We are still collecting the food because we’ll be using it in January and February at the Food Bank. Oatmeal, the canned meats, those sorts of items, we still need them.”
The bump up in hamper demand had the ladies organize an extra assembly shift Friday morning to make sure they were ready for Saturday morning to pick up. Now that hampers have gone out, the ladies will reconvene to figure out where shortfalls were this year and what adjustments will need to be made. “For example, last year we didn’t have enough family games so this year we asked RancheView and they came through big time. In fact, if they didn’t come through we would have been struggling with family games.”
Despite heaping mounds of donated items; pyjamas, teen boys and girls items still fell short this year.
With the hampers all sorted and handed out, Parnell shares being part of Share Your Christmas is so heartwarming. Businesses, schools, community organizations and simple volunteers join forces to make sure no one goes without and with no questions asked. “Not in Cochrane. We are one of the few communities where there’s no financial requirement.”
You can keep donating or dropping off non-perishables at Safeway, Save On Foods, and No Frills, while cash/cheque donations can be sent to:
Cochrane Food Bank