White plush bears for the little girls, brown for the boys this Christmas, says Hedwig Stawski with a nod and a smile.
For three decades Stawski has worked with the Knights of Columbus to deliver tens of thousands of toys and Christmas hampers to the less fortunate in Campbell River and outlying communities.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and the last five years I’ve been in charge of toys,” she says, while posing for a photo with a long-time friend and helper.
“We’ve been a team for years!” says Heather Warwick.
The two women are busy right now as they organize all the toys for this year’s Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper Fund.
And when they’re done that, they’ll help the guys load up hampers for nearly 1,100 individuals and families this holiday season.
“It will all come in and it will all get done,” promises Stawski.
Donations are starting to pour in to the Hamper depot located in the Tyee Plaza beside Banner’s Restaurant.
“The toys are coming in fairly good, food donations too, and the money is coming in. We’re doing well,” says Jim Linton, this year’s director of Hamper operations.
Wednesday was a good day, Boston Pizza dropped off a cheque for $2,000, followed by the Great Canadian Oil Change which donated $1,250, and a steady trickle of people stopped with food and toys.
“The community is certainly starting to respond,” says Knight Kevin Geary, another long-time volunteer.
This year the Knights will deliver at least 1,096 Hampers, down a bit from last year’s 1,207. So far they’ve raised almost $40,000 of the $70,000 required to pay their food bill.
Cash donations are always welcome, says Linton, because the Knights can make the dollar go “a little longer” by buying at wholesale prices generously offered by local grocers.
However, all donations are welcome, particularly gifts for teens and seniors.
The Knights are also looking for volunteers to help pack and deliver hampers on Dec. 20-21. Packing will begin on the Friday with delivery taking all-day Saturday, during two four-hour shifts.
If you want to volunteer for a shift or make a donation, stop by the Hamper depot, Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call 250-286-6361.