July 12, 2020

Winnipeg
23° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Close this

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Volunteers spread Christmas cheer through delivering hampers

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Tim Watters unloads packed hampers at the Christmas Cheer Board, which supplies 17,000 hampers annually, in Winnipeg on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. For Brenda Suderman/Gabrielle Piche story. Winnipeg Free Press 2019.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Tim Watters unloads packed hampers at the Christmas Cheer Board, which supplies 17,000 hampers annually, in Winnipeg on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. For Brenda Suderman/Gabrielle Piche story. Winnipeg Free Press 2019.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/12/2019 (209 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DENIS Bonnefoy arrived at the Christmas Cheer Board in good spirits. There to deliver hampers, he immediately started dancing with the volunteer who greeted him at the door on Tuesday.

"It’s always nice to give your time to help others," said Bonnefoy, who is in his late 50s. "You get to meet nice people."

Bonnefoy had never visited the Cheer Board before Tuesday. Within 15 minutes, he and Allan Oakes, his friend, were in the car and on their way to make two downtown deliveries.

Like Bonnefoy, Oakes was new to volunteering with the Cheer Board.

SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSKai Madsen, executive director of the Christmas Cheer Board, at the organization's St. James St. warehouse on November 29, 2019.</p>

SHANNON VANRAES / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSKai Madsen, executive director of the Christmas Cheer Board, at the organization's St. James St. warehouse on November 29, 2019.

The 38-year-old, who is originally from Edmonton, is no stranger to helping others, though. He spent 12 years of his childhood as a Boy Scout, which included numerous opportunities to serve others.

"I miss being involved in that tradition of volunteer work," Oakes said.

Bonnefoy and Oakes are just two of the volunteer drivers who will deliver more than 17,000 hampers this month.

Michelle Hauri and Lynelle Hebert are two more volunteer drivers. While Bonnefoy and Oakes were driving around downtown, Hauri and Hebert — friends who have known each other for more than 20 years — made deliveries in St. Boniface.

It was their third year volunteering with the Cheer Board.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>FAITH - packing hampers at Charleswood United Church.</p><p>Volunteers from Charleswood United church celebrate as they start packing their 50th hamper, which is their last one for the Christmas Cheer Board on Friday morning.</p><p>According to the Cheer Board, they are the single-largest private provider of hampers. John Longhurst story</p><p>Dec 13th, 2019</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

FAITH - packing hampers at Charleswood United Church.

Volunteers from Charleswood United church celebrate as they start packing their 50th hamper, which is their last one for the Christmas Cheer Board on Friday morning.

According to the Cheer Board, they are the single-largest private provider of hampers. John Longhurst story

Dec 13th, 2019

Hauri said delivering hampers is an easy way to volunteer because it just takes a bit of time and gas money.

"It’s not a high cost to do this," the 44-year-old said.

The interactions that volunteers have with the people they deliver to are often meaningful, Hebert said.

"Once you get there, the people are so thankful," she said.

En route to one of their deliveries, Hebert texted a hamper recipient to make sure she was home. The woman and her two-year-old son greeted the women at the door with huge smiles.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Packed hampers at the Christmas Cheer Board, which supplies 17,000 hampers annually, in Winnipeg on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. For Brenda Suderman/Gabrielle Piche story. Winnipeg Free Press 2019.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Packed hampers at the Christmas Cheer Board, which supplies 17,000 hampers annually, in Winnipeg on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. For Brenda Suderman/Gabrielle Piche story. Winnipeg Free Press 2019.

After Hebert and Hauri left, the woman sent Hebert a text to say thanks.

"You get all warm and fuzzy," Hebert said.

"It’s totally worth it," Hauri added.

Anyone with a valid driver’s licence and a vehicle can deliver hampers. All they have to do is show up at the Cheer Board headquarters at 947 St. James St. any time from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Cheer Board encourages people to work in teams of two or more.

Making deliveries was meaningful for Bonnefoy and Oakes, who headed back to the Cheer Board to pick up more hampers after completing their first two-stop run.

While reflecting on the experience, Oakes mentioned the duo’s first delivery to a hotel on Main Street. They were greeted at the front desk by a man whose gruff demeanour turned friendly once he realized they were from the Cheer Board.

"You can see the recognition of the program and the impact it has," Oakes said. "It was pretty incredible to witness something like that in the community."

aaron.epp@gmail.com

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us