Neighbour to Neighbour Centre still needs gifts for hamper program
By Mark Newman, News Staff
Continuing difficult economic times has lead to a record demand for food bank services at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
Last month about 1,500 families used the Athens Street food bank.
“It’s the most ever for one month,” said centre operations manager Sara Collyer, who noted that after serving 1,200 families each month for the past year or so the number jumped to 1,300 in October.
“I don’t think (the demand) is going to get any smaller until the recession rights itself,” Collyer said.
The centre’s annual Christmas hamper program has maxed out at 1,500 families who began picking up their items on Monday at a prearranged time at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church on Mohawk Road West or Emmanuel United Church on Upper Ottawa.
Registration for the hampers was held in October and filled up quickly.
Collyer said the hamper program is still in need of gifts for teenagers such as skateboards, hockey sticks, hair straighteners, make-up kits and gift cards for movie theatres.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation should contact the centre at 905-574-1334.
The hamper program enables registered families to pick up food for Christmas Day along with some gifts for children and teens.
Collyer said the centre has changed its previous policy and is now permitting clients to use the food bank and the hamper program during the month of December.
“We did a pilot last year to see how it ran and it ran very well,” Collyer said. “People liked it and they needed it.”
Collyer noted the food bank provides a family with food for three to seven days while the hamper program provides food for one day, including items for a traditional Christmas meal.
When hamper program users arrive at one of the churches, they will be greeted by a Neighbour to Neighbour volunteer, quite possibly dressed like an elf, who will hand them a shopping cart and assist them in choosing food and gifts off the shelves in a store-like setting.
Collyer said anyone still looking for a Christmas hamper who did not register will be referred to other agencies in the city.