The Knights of Columbus Project Coordinator for the Christmas Hamper Project provided an update to Rotary via Zoom on Wednesday morning.
“It has been a challenging year with the Coronavirus,” said Patrick Earles. “There is no doubt about it. I am sure. I have not seen our final numbers this year but I am sure they are going to be up. I know right now our donations are not too too bad but lower that what they have usually been at this time.”
There is still time to make donations of unwrapped children’s toys and gifts can be made at donation boxes located at Bumper-to-Bumper,Home Hardware, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank and Servus Credit Union.
Financial contributions may be made at the St Jean Baptiste Rectory or Bumper to Bumper with cheques made to the St Jean Baptiste Parish with the word “Hampers” annotated in the memo portion of the cheque. Income tax receipts will be issued. Earles said he can also pick up.
The main thing is the distribution. This year the hamper delivery is scheduled for Friday Dec. 18.
This usually starts by 5-6 pm and done by 7-8 pm.
Earles said the idea is to give a family one solid meal over the Christmas time and enough stuff for two or three meals or more.
He has been involved with the program for about four years and before that it was Henry Lamoureux for maybe 18-20 more years. The program has been in existence for over 30 years.
Every year the program supports anywhere between 100 and 150 families in Morinville and area.
Earles said some years it has dropped below 100 but not very often. Most years it averages 106 and 110 families.
The donations come through the community, through individuals and businesses and all the money they collect goes back into the community one way or another.
The bulk of the money goes towards the hampers and hampers average anywhere from $60 to $80 depending on if they can get a good deal on some of the products that they supply.
With any remaining funds they donate it all to the local schools for their lunch programs so at the end of the year they zero everything out.
The main thing is the distribution.
This one day has been preceded by weeks of work and planning.
Earles said he spends about two months on. He starts early, sending letters out and preparing and keeps on going till January with the thank you letters being sent out.
This year they are not buying hampers, maybe purchase carts to limit contact as much as possible. Toys will be inside plastic bags to be dropped off.
Earles said they have a meeting scheduled later this week to discuss the final details.
“It is a good community effort, not just the Knights of Columbus involved. Lots of people from different organizations and some kids from high school help as well,” he said. “It is a good community event. I think for the people that participate it is very rewarding.”
And for those who deliver that package and see the joy that family is getting, sometimes these people would have nothing, it is a very fulfilling thing.”
Midstream Support Society
The Midstream Support Society organizes and facilitates several community support programs to assist individuals and families in need during the holiday season, the Christmas feast, The Santa Store and Christmas Hampers.
The Midstream Support Society partners with Morinville’s Knights of Columbus to ensure residents are able to prepare a festive meal in the comfort of their homes during the holidays.
This year due to Covid-19 the Midstream Christmas Feast, Christmas party and supper is cancelled.
This year the Santa Store Program is operated a bit differently. Parents/guardians are asked to list three items their child is requesting and the committee will do their best to ensure that one of those wishes are fulfilled. The order will be delivered with the Christmas Hamper.
Home Hardware Store Manger Matt Parrent showing one of the generous donations at the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper donation boxes.
At Bumper to Bumper Joanne Kacho, Karen Cust and Kierra Condon showed some of the many generous donations in the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper box at their location.
Knights of Columbus Project Coordinator Pat Earles speaking to Rotary members via Zoom on Wednesday morning.