Press, volunteers and visitors alike visited our Christmas Baskets Open House this year on November 16, 2017.
It was a late start to get the program up and running this year.”We needed a space and we were getting pretty desperate,” said Heather Vanner, Executive Director, “We had a few ‘what are we going to do if’ conversations.”
Thankfully space at 11 Bodine Dr. was secured, with the help of Lange Group of Companies, just in time for the holiday program. The Christmas Baskets program provides those in need with baskets stuffed with fixings for a full Christmas dinner, along with toys, books and knitted items. Almost 2,000 individuals and families from Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations received Christmas Baskets and toys last year and the organization is anticipating similar numbers this year.
“We’ve had higher numbers in the past but they are coming down,” said Vanner. “We’re starting to see a shift but there are still too many people in our community who need help.”
Registration for Christmas Baskets usually begins November 1, but instead they opened their doors on November 13. Program manager Cindy Oliver said that in just two and a half days, 157 people had registered for a basket. “We got a lot of people on the first day,” she said. “People had been waiting to come in.”
Registration will continue until December 8 but can be extended if there is a need.
Mayor Chris Friel said the Bodine Drive building, near the Lynden Park Mall and on a bus route, is one of the best locations Christmas Baskets has had in years.
“As I was walking in I saw a young couple with a child walking out,” said Friel. “Her eyes were bright and wide open and she was carrying a stuffed toy. That’s why Christmas Baskets happens and why all the volunteers come out to make it happen. I come across so many young families who are working double jobs and always in the back of their mind there is a fear that they can’t provide what others do for their children. Let us help you make it easier.”
Friel said it’s simple to donate to the program. People out shopping can pick up an extra toy, or make a financial contribution in person or online.
“If everybody in the City of Brantford put in 20 bucks what a difference we could make.”
Vanner said her family was helped by a Christmas program in the city where she grew up after her father died and her mother was left to raise nine children on her own.
So, too, was Coun. Richard Carpenter who handed Vanner a $50 donation on Thursday. “I also grew up in a single-parent family,” he said. “Without an organization like this I wouldn’t have had a Christmas.”
Oliver encouraged businesses and schools to organize toy and food drives. Last year, 13 local schools donated more than 10,000 pounds of non-perishable items.
Donations can be dropped at 11 Bodine Dr. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Registration for Christmas Baskets also will be taken during those hours. Registrants must show valid identification for each member of the household, as well as proof of income and address. For more information about registration, call 519-751-0000.
Among the food items most needed are boxed stuffing, canned cranberries, vegetables, fruit, juice and cereal.
The delivery date for the baskets is Dec. 22. Volunteer drivers are needed, with loading of vehicles beginning at 8 a.m.
Tim Hortons is also a proud community supporter and lead sponsor for the Christmas Baskets program this year.
Adapted from the original story by the Brantford Expositor (http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2017/11/16/support-urged-for-christmas-baskets)