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Filling those Christmas hampers

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 21/05) - For Christmas shoppers ready to pull their hair out trying to find the right gift for their beloved relative, Major Glenda MacKenzie of the Yellowknife Salvation Army has a suggestion.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Cheryl Thomas, Christmas co-ordinator, left and Salvation Army's Major Glenda MacKenzie are ready to fill up this year's Christmas hampers to give to those needing a helping hand. - Dorothy Westerman/NNSL photo

"Many people are buying gifts for people who have everything, they wrack their brains trying to figure out what to give.

"It might be a year to consider giving the gift, or joy, of giving," MacKenzie said.

The Salvation Army is ready to deliver on its annual Adopt-a-family and Christmas hamper program.

"People might want to adopt a family on behalf of their loved one and make that their gift to their loved one," MacKenzie said.

People stretched to the max and in need of support to get them through what otherwise might be a difficult Christmas can apply anonymously at the office to receive a hamper, which consists of food and several gifts, said Cheryl Taylor, co-ordinator of the program.

For people wanting to adopt a family, Taylor said the hamper will include items the family needs for the holiday season.

"We ask that they provide a turkey and fixings along with staples to get them through the week. Then with children, we suggest they get two or three small gifts for the kids," Taylor said.

"We don't want people to go overboard on one family, because we would like to see more of a balance across the board," Taylor said of the type and price of gifts donated.

"Some people are very generous and we've had big ticket items come in, but the unfortunate part is that maybe their neighbour only got the basic hamper.

"And that's what the program really is about," Taylor said.

The average cost of a hamper is about $300-$350 each. The Salvation Army will do the shopping if cash is donated.

"Our purpose is not to be extravagant in what we are giving, but to help people have a nice Christmas," MacKenzie said.

"I've often heard people speak in later years in their lives saying, 'I remember the year that we were hard-pressed for Christmas - we didn't know what to do - and then a parcel arrived from the Salvation Army'," MacKenzie said.

Currently, the Salvation Army is also conducting a letter campaign asking potential donors of the program to help with this year's program.

Last year the program supplied 432 hampers.

Of those, 195 were from sponsors of the Adopt-a-family program.

The program gave 936 adults and 810 children a brighter Christmas.

In 2003, 450 hampers were provided to Yellowknifers.

Also, last year there were 175 basic hampers sent to various communities in the NWT, Taylor added.