CARSTAIRS – The Carstairs Lions Club has started its annual Christmas Hamper campaign. Unfortunately, this year the need is greater than ever yet donations are down.
Lions Club president Leslie Cunningham said they are in urgent need of more help in filling the growing need for hampers in the community.
“First of all, the economy is worse if anything, so more people are asking for help,” said Cunningham. “Secondly, we’re all in the same boat so the donations are down and they’re really down.”
Last year 111 recipients were given hampers consisting of grocery cards, toys and/or gifts, said Cunningham.
“This year we’ve got about $3,000 on just grocery gift cards,” she said. “Last year we gave out $12,000.”
The Lions will be handing out the hampers with the grocery cards and gifts some time later in December just before Christmas. The exact date and location will only be given out to those receiving hampers for confidentiality reasons, she said.
“We will be giving out grocery gift cards again this year, which allows individuals to shop for what they want and need while giving them a sense of dignity and confidentiality,” she said. “We are asking for unwrapped gifts for those eight years of age to adult. We don’t need anything for the younger ages because we have plenty left over from last year from a late donation.”
Also needed are donations of toiletries and socks, particularly for adults and teenagers, she said.
Gifts can be dropped off at bins located throughout Carstairs at Co-op, the town office, Artisan Market, Pharmasave, Remedy RX and the legion.
Donations of cash, cheques, Walmart gift cards, etc., may be dropped off at the Carstairs ATB or the town office.
Cunningham said the Lions carefully vet all recipients for the program to ensure they live in the Carstairs area and are truly in need.
Several businesses in Carstairs are stepping up to help with the hamper program including Crossfit Carstairs. They recently held a Family Paint Day supporting the Lions hampers and brought in two bins' worth of toys.
“We are collecting until December 7 so the members who couldn’t make it can still donate,” said owner Michelle Ball. “We’re also accepting cash and gift card donations.”
Ball said it’s important to give back to the community.
“Crossfit really instills a community feeling and part of being in a community is giving back,” she said. “The kids enjoy the painting and get to learn about the hamper program and the importance of helping others. It’s a great way to start the Christmas season and get everyone in the spirit.”