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Give a little bit...

Roxanna Thompson and Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Dec 16/05) - For some of us, the biggest holiday concern is not to over-indulge. There's food aplenty and stacks of gifts under the picturesque tree.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Neil Kotchea and Kathie McLeod display some groceries bound for the Christmas food hamper at Echo Dene school in Fort Liard. - Derek Neary/NNSL photo

That's not true for everyone, though. Being mindful of that, Fort Liard's Kathie McLeod set out a Christmas food hamper at Echo Dene school three weeks ago. Notes were sent home with students to remind their parents that donations would be greatly appreciated.

"I just thought it was a good idea," McLeod said. "They're happy to get something."

She has been involved in the seasonal act of goodwill for four years. Last year's hamper helped six families who were without a significant source of income and this year she brought in an even larger box, she said, smiling.

In Fort Providence the Friendship Centre receives hampers from the Salvation Army in Yellowknife, said Paschalina Thurber, the executive director.

Around 15 hampers are sent every year and this meets the need in the community, which has remained fairly constant, said Thurber.

In Fort Simpson, thanks to the efforts of staff at the Friendship Centre and several volunteers, the hampers become full Christmas meals complete with extra food for leftovers.

Around 40 turkeys with all the fixings are sent from the Salvation Army in Yellowknife and that's supplemented with canned goods, said Aaron McNab, the centre's executive director.

Every year the organization's staff send out letters to organizations asking for money or food donations. Some contributions are a bit unusual. This year staff from Environment and Natural Resources sent their leftover dry goods from the firefighting season to be used in the hampers.

To round out the packages, McNab orders another 20 turkeys and hams from the Northern Store. Program money is used to offset the purchase of other food like canned soup, beans, stew and lunch meat.

Staff and volunteers help put the hampers together and deliver them.

"It's a positive response," said McNab. "They are quite happy about it seeing as some don't know what they will be doing for their Christmas suppers."

The kind gesture is often returned with recipients of the hampers coming to help out at events like the open house at the Friendship Centre.

A core group of people who use the Christmas hamper program remains constant, said McNab, but the overall numbers have been slowly climbing.