Mark your calendars.
The staff at the Tribune are once again preparing for our annual Food and Toy Drive being held on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. until noon.
This year, we will have on location, the Salvation Army container van.
“We are really hoping that the community of Williams Lake will help us fill the van to the roof with food and new Christmas toys for those less fortunate,” said publisher Kathy McLean.
Every family that donates will be able to select an envelope from the Tribune’s Christmas Tree.
“Each envelope contains a gift certificate from one of our many participating merchants who kindly support this wonderful event year after year,” McLean said. “There is no better feeling than the spirit of giving and together we can make a difference. We see familiar faces each year donating what they can and the smiles on their faces warms our hearts.”
Salvation Army Majors Stephen and Millie French were assigned to Williams Lake in August 2016.
Stephen said the army really appreciates the community’s generosity.
“Since Millie and I have come here we’ve been overwhelmed by this community. We have never seen such a commitment to volunteerism and a sense of happiness around it.”
Food bank co-ordinator Sarah Carter said Tuesday the closing date for people to apply for Christmas hampers is Thursday, Nov. 24, so she did not have the final numbers yet.
However, she knows they are in need of gifts for children of all ages and for food items such as Kraft dinner, canned fruit, canned proteins such as fish, tuna or smoked oysters even.
Echoing Major French, Carter said the community continues to be very generous.
As in past years, the Christmas food hampers will contain gift cards from local grocery stores as well.
“I had a Grade 7 class from Columneetza bring food in they had collected while trick-or -treating at Halloween,” she said.
Food and items collected at this time of year are used well into the next year.
Carter has seen the need growing because more people have moved to town, she said.
“We are seeing more homeless people and lots that are not allowed in the shelter because they have been banned,” Carter said. “And there are a few teenagers that have fallen through the cracks and are homeless too.”
The share shelf at the entrance of the food bank is being used by 85 people a day, she added.
“It’s great when people drop off fruit and vegetables for the shelf,” Carter said.
There is always a need for toiletries, as the showers in the community building are used frequently, she added.
On Wednesday, November 23, the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign kicks off at Walmart, 1 p.m.
“We are in urgent need of volunteers for the kettles,” Carter said, noting anyone willing to help out is asked to call Sandra at 250-392-1072 or Stephen 250-267-8064. The kettles will also be on location at Canadian Tire, Wholesale Food Club, Save On Foods and the B.C. Liquor Store.
The food bank will be closed from Dec. 15 to Jan. 2, but the share shelf will be open Monday to Friday during that time, except on Boxing Day.
Two days before Christmas, the army will serve its annual Christmas Dinner on Friday, Dec. 23, from 11:30 to 1 p.m.
“We served 150 people at Thanksgiving so we are anticipating 200 for Christmas,” Carter said, noting the cook in charge is roasting 10 turkeys.
McLean said for those that can not attend the food drive on Saturday but want to drop off donations early, the Tribune will gladly accept them.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” McLean added.