Salvation Army community outreach co-ordinator Dave Byers is hoping local citizens will once again help spread some Christmas cheer.
The number of people needing help has increased by 20 per cent over the same two-week period last year. “If that stays on track, we’ll be filling about 600 Christmas hampers this year.”
Byers says his biggest need at the moment is protein – fresh or frozen meat, especially ground beef to go in the regular hampers which are given out twice a week.
Other protein items are tuna fish, salmon, peanut butter and canned hams.
Other items on Byers’ wish list are pasta, pasta sauce and canned fruit and vegetables.
“I’m really down to the bottom of the barrel, I need produce and I have no sugar left,” he says. “I have lots of cookies and soup, so no tomato soup please, and no cookies.”
Byers says there are a growing number of requests from people needing gluten-free foods.
Plans are also underway to prepare the special Christmas hampers and Byers says a number of single men have requested toupee hams instead of turkeys for their meal. He notes seasonal treats such as candy are also included in the Christmas hampers.
Byers says one woman, who last year contributed a turkey and toys, asked him this year if she could apply for a hamper.
“I don’t know how many people lost their jobs when Zeller’s closed, but people are walking around with sad faces,” he says. “It’s difficult these days.”
The annual Christmas campaign kicked off Friday with the opening of the Mall at Piccadilly’s Sleigh of Hope, where people are invited to drop off non-perishable items until Christmas. Non-perishable food items can also be dropped off at the Salvation Army Food Bank at 191 Second Ave. NE from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, which is located a block south of Safeway or at Santa’s Station of Giving in Centenoka Park Mall.
Perishable food items such as meat and produce need to be taken directly to the Salvation Army Food Bank.
Bring two bags of non-perishable, “non-expired” food to the Salmon Arm Observer office and take a ticket off the tree to get a minimum $35 gift certificate from a local business.
Another opportunity for donating non-perishable food items comes with James Murray’s Christmas show, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Shuswap Theatre and at the CP Rail Holiday Train event, which rolls into town Saturday, Dec. 15 with an exciting show beginning at 6:15 p.m.
The loss of Zellers is also being felt at the Salvation Army. The store used to provide many toys to the food bank and Byers says most of the other stores in town are committed to other organizations.
For those in need of a hand this year, Christmas hamper applications are now available at the Family Resource Centre and the Salvation Army Food Bank, where completed applications will be accepted Mondays and Fridays to Nov. 30.