Salvation Army kicks off food drive in Penticton

Registration is currently underway for those needing a Christmas hamper from the Salvation Army this year.

Joey Cyr of the Penticton Salvation Army with a full bag of food similar to the ones which will be used in the upcoming 10

Registration is currently underway for those needing a Christmas hamper from the Salvation Army this year.

So far over 200 people have already signed up and been interviewed for the annual program.

The total number of hampers that will be given out on Dec. 19 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre is again this year expected to surpass the 800 mark.

“Basically what we provide is a Christmas dinner and toys for any children under the age of 16,” said Joey Cyr Penticton Salvation Army community and family services supervisor. “We planning on doing the registrations and interviews up until Dec. 6.”

The hampers contain a turkey with all the fixings, including stuffing, potatoes, carrots, peas, eggs bread, milk and juice, usually enough food for at least a couple of days.

“Anyone who is in need can register but we want people who are in need, we don’t discriminate if you say there is a need we’re going to try to do our best to help,” said Cyr who is organizing his first Christmas Hamper campaign after taking over from Christine Simmons.

“We interview every person that comes just to make sure we have all of the information, we want to know if there are kids and how old they are so we can get age-appropriate gifts.”

Each hamper is individually put together to make sure larger families have enough.

Organizers also want to make sure people receiving hampers have not registered with any other agencies to ensure there is no duplication.

At last year’s distribution day there was a wide range of recipients from seniors to young families all of who were extremely grateful for any help they received.

Many said without the help from the good bank they would not have had Christmas.

“I’m excited about the day we give the hampers out,” said Cyr.  “From what I hear it’s a really neat day, you see a lot of people come in and it’s nice to be able to help a lot of people.”

Among the dignitaries expected to be on hand to lend support are Mayor Garry Litke and Penticton MLA Dan Ashton. Other local groups and organizations will have members there to help with a range of duties.

According to Cyr, more volunteers are needed to help packing and distributing the hampers as well as assisting people to their cars and driving them home. Usually about 50 volunteers help on the day of the disbursement and about 90 volunteer hours are put in prior to.

Most of the food to fill the baskets is purchased from the larger, local grocery stores which often give the Salvation Army a break on costs. For more information or to register for a hamper or to volunteer call 250-492-4788.