The Salvation Army’s decision to provide people with gift cards to buy groceries during this year’s Christmas Hamper Campaign is all about giving them dignity, said Capt. Ben Lippers of the SA in Williams Lake.
“If you talk to the people who actually have families, they prefer it that way. Singles don’t like it maybe because they don’t get as much, but they can come over and have a Christmas dinner with us on Christmas Day.”
When the SA packs up turkeys, and all the trimmings, clients walk out the door with the items in a box and can’t hide the fact they have asked for help, Lippers said.
“People are coming into a building asking for help and in some cases they don’t want the world to know they are hurting. With the gift cards they can go to the store like anybody else and they can buy their groceries.”
However, Lippers said if there are people in the community wanting to still donate turkeys to the SA they can be assured the turkeys won’t go to waste.
They will be cooked and served on Christmas Day at the SA Christmas dinner and into the new year for meals served at the soup kitchen.
This is the first year Lippers and his wife Capt. Isobel Lippers are spearheading the S.A.’s Christmas efforts in Williams Lake.
The couple moved to Williams Lake early in 2014.
Giving gifts cards at Christmas is a practice many SAs are transitioning to across Canada, Lippers said.
“Critics say recipients can go sell the gift cards for addictions but you know, they can sell a Christmas hamper and I’ve seen that done.”
Even the toys for children’s presents are given out at the SA church across the street from the community services building.
That way people walking out with toys in a bag could very well have been shopping at the thrift store and no one would know anything different, Lippers said.
This year the demand for hampers is up by 40 per cent from 2013 as 405 adults have applied so far.
“We’ve sent out letters to our usual donors and are just waiting to hear back,” Lippers said. “All we can do is pray for a good response.”
The Williams Lake Tribune/Advisor is teaming up with Canadian Tire to offer the Spirit of Giving Tree, where customers can pull a card from a Christmas tree at Canadian Tire listing what the local need is.
Those wanting to give the gift of a toy to a child in need this year are encourage to take part in the program.