Stocking the shelves for the holiday rush

Salvation Army campaign in high gear to help bring a merry Christmas to all those in need

Christine Simmons

Need never goes away.

“Even if the economy is picking up, Christmas comes at a time of year when other expenses are high,” said Christine Simmons, Salvation Army community ministries director. “People have to pay higher utility costs and winter clothing for the children. All of those things, it all seems to come at once.”

Simmons said the Salvation Army has more than 500 children on their list to receive presents this year and she is projecting the demand for hampers to be about 800.

“People want to provide a good Christmas for their families, parents want their children to have a good Christmas,” said Simmons. “It’s a very stressful time for many people.”

The good news is that the annual kettle campaign and other events like the Penticton high schools’ 10,000 Tonight food drive are doing well. The annual student-driven food bank drive happened Dec. 1.

“One of the stories I heard from one of the parents was they couldn’t believe how generous people were when they went to their doors,” said Simmons. “They had their bags all ready, so it was very encouraging for the school kids.”

Simmons said they offer the students as much support as they can, even arranging to have some food ready when they get back to the school after collecting food.

“The 10,000 Tonight drive and the annual Toy Breakfast that usually follows a week after is always very uplifting for us,” said Simmons. “It just shows how much the community cares.”

This is Simmons’ 12th Christmas in Penticton, and for her, it’s one of the busiest times of the year. She starts preparing for it in the summer. By the time Christmas Day rolls around, she said she is ready to collapse.

“I keep going knowing that there is a need. That’s why we’re here, to help people who are in need,” said Simmons. “It’s the folks that are going to receive the assistance we can give, but it’s also the support of the community that helps make it possible.”

But, she said, they still need help. With more than 500 children on their list for gifts, she encourages people to help out by taking a tag from their Angel Tree at Wal-Mart and buying an appropriate gift to drop off in Santa’s sleigh there.

However, the need in the community doesn’t end at Christmas. Food and funds collected during this charitable season help to support the food bank’s work year round.

“We distribute between 350-400 hampers every month; that’s 900-1,000 people,” said Simmons.

“We rely so much on the food that comes in through the Christmas season. It’s an ongoing thing, people don’t stop being hungry just because they have received their Christmas hamper.”


Just Posted

Ranchers help grow PRH

Ranching family’s roots recognized through PRH donation

Video: UpriSingh rally in the South Okanagan

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visited Penticton for the second time this year.

Oktoberfest kicks off new Beer Week

The 10th annual event ties into the new week-long celebration of craft beers.

Vees fall to Clippers by 4-1

It was a bit of a feeling out process through the opening 20 minutes between two teams

Rain in forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap region

Mixed bag of clouds, sun and showers forecast for the week ahead

Summerland council agrees to 30-year lease with steam railway

Tourist train has been operating as an attraction in Summerland since 1995

Speeding a concern on Summerland streets

Police observe fast motorists in town and on Highway 97

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Athletes of the Week: Aurora Goerlitz and Sadie Sussey

The Penticton Christian School students demonstrate there’s nothing wrong with a little horseplay

Letter: Too many going without

The problem of poverty needs to be fixed fast

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

Most Read