To walk into the MPP room at the Rec Centre on December 17 was a little overwhelming, to say the least. This was the annual Food Bank Christmas Hamper distribution day and thanks to the generous donations of Chestermere area residents, businesses and schools, what a production!
As clients arrive for their appointments, Jody from Community Services gives them gift cards made available through the Christmas With Dignity program and directs them to a table full of stuffed teddy bears, Christmas decorations, household items and other gifts donated through the program.
They are then directed to Dani, the Food Bank co-ordinator where they are given shopping bags donated by CUI and invited to take breads, pastries and other baked items donated by Starbucks and Buy Low Foods in Langdon. Next was nicely decorated candy bags made up by the children at Sara Thompson School along with more candy and nuts donated by Trophy Foods.
The St. Gabe’s Parent Council provided a table full of fresh vegetables including potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, and cabbage; six large boxes of potatoes donated by George and Marg included on that table.
We get to the table of shoe boxes donated by Mr. Goldie’s class at Chestermere Middle School. A food bank volunteer is looking over the client list and matching them with the perfect shoe box. As she gives the shoe boxes out, some of the clients cry, making the volunteer cry, getting the other volunteers a little weepy……on to the next table.
Flats of fancy little Christmas bottles of Coke; enough donated to provide each client with two flats. Flats of excess cans of peas, spaghetti, tomato sauce and soup available for those that want it; personal hygiene items compliments of the Indus Ringette Tournament made available.
We move on to a table full of beautifully wrapped roasters which contain stuffing, pie crust and filling, gravy, chocolates and cranberry sauce among other items; a joint effort made possible by Chestermere Dental, Royal Bank, Wise & Company, Life Path Wellness, Co-Operators Insurance, Avleen Skin Care, Synergy, Cornerstone Renovations, Safeway and Monterray Co-Op.
Next table; boxes of mandarin oranges and finally, they receive their turkey; thanks to Dwayne, Sara, Ryan, Bob, Carol and families. Just a couple of turkeys short; a few mandarin oranges among other items, Dani takes her list to No Frills and Eric donates it all!
Chestermere Landing (Dockside), Rainbow Creek Elementary School, FnF Slo Pitch, Prince of Peace Residents Association, Shoppers Drug Mart, Chestermere Curling, Legup and many Chestermere residents provided substantial cash donations to make this all possible. Chestermere High School, Prairie Waters, East Lake, Our Lady of Wisdom and Prince of Peace Schools all had or are in the process of having food drives along with Evolve Learning, Bright Path and Optimum Wellness, which will keep the shelves full for the next few months.
There must have been close to twenty Food Bank volunteers; one for each table; two delivering hampers to those with no transportation; three helping to load hampers into vehicles; a few replenishing stock from upstairs, several who wrapped the roasters prior to distribution day. The ongoing support of the Rec Centre (CRCA) and staff is obviously priceless, and without the support of The Anchor, the awareness and need would be sadly lacking.
Well done, Chestermere; you made the holiday season much brighter for close to 40 families. May each and every one of you have a happy and healthy New Year!