Abundant Life Lutheran Church is promoting its second annual Christmas Hamper Program.
A similar program had been run by East St. Paul police before they were disbanded in 2008, and the church decided to give it a try in 2011 and was surprised by the positive reaction.
I met with a group from the church to discuss how things are going.
Karin Brewer, coordinator of the program, advised that sharing the Christmas Spirit has been overwhelming.
"We have had volunteers from the church, locals and even non-locals who have come to help in some way", she said.
Pastor Annemarie MacIntosh added: "Lee’s on Devries called after seeing a poster, One Insurance Oakbank and the new ESP Health Centre have called to help and, of course, the Lions, who have been so generous."
Our Sobeys store showed its generosity by giving discounts on grocery purchases meant to fill the hampers.
Randy Loeb (resident good guy) said the project has taken off and there are more donations this year than last.
"We had one lady drive into the church parking lot saying that she just came from Toys R Us and wanted to donate. That’s the kind of response we have been getting."
Even in a more affluent community, there are always people we can help. In fact, the day I met the group someone called to request a hamper for a single mom battling cancer. These are our neighbours.
MacIntosh remembered one young couple from last year who were expecting their first child just before Christmas but had no place to live.
Hmm, sound familiar? The proud and grateful parents even made the effort to come by the church to express their gratitude once the baby was born.
Last year the hamper drive was expected to produce 10-15 hampers but it ended up with enough donations to complete 28.
One such donor who made a big difference was Brett Ritchot of Brett’s Low Cost Auto Repair.
On the day before the hampers were to be packed, Brett showed up at the church with enough food and toys to make up six more hampers. This year, his shop is spilling over with toys donated by friends, family and his customers,and he expects to exceed his donation of last year.
More donations mean bringing more joy to more families. Please consider donating food, toys or your time. Call 204-255-5433 to find out how you can help.
Cher Hebert is a community correspondent for East St. Paul. She can be contacted at email@example.com.