Once again the community showed up in droves to participate and donate during the sixth annual Christmas Wish Breakfast held Dec. 14 at the Overlander Convention Centre. Organized by the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre and the Overlander Hotel each year, it’s an event that keeps on growing.
“On that day in particular we had over a thousand toys given away,” says Vanessa Riplinger of the CCCDC. “We had an additional $5,000 donated so we did more shopping for teens and babies that day.”
By the end of the day all the gifts had been distributed, she says.
“We gave toys to some of our outlying communities. All the agencies in town that needed toys came and got some, and then the Salvation Army came in at the end of the day and picked up all the rest,” Riplinger explains, adding she doesn’t think any child will go without because people from various agencies and schools came to collect gifts for specific children they knew are in need.
“That’s what Christmas is all about,” Riplinger says.
Overlander Hotel owner/manager Lindsey Gasparini, who, with Riplinger, originally generated the idea for the breakfast, said he loves the event because it’s local and it’s about kids.
“We know it goes to the local families around here directly,” Gasparini says. “There’s not a lot of red tape involved. It’s community first. That’s how we always look at it. The community’s always been good to us and it’s a sense of community doing this. If we can try and better some people’s lives or take some of the pressure off, that’s what it’s all about.”
The Overlander supplies all the food, and this year was able to secure a donation from his linen supplier.
He also said his catering manager Lynn Ball, head chef Pat Boate, food servers and front desk staff were all kept busy helping out.
Gasparini says Boate estimated he went through 140 pounds of bacon, 70 pounds of sausage, 70 pounds of ham, and 35 pounds of pancake batter, potatoes and fruit that morning.
“We were busy, but I’m always so excited that the community comes out and supports the event,” Gasparini says.