Hamper drive humbling, gratifying experience

When crunch time was near the community donated food, toys and money

This year’s Community Christmas Hamper Fund, the 38th year being organized by the Knights of Columbus, was quite similar to that of 2010.

In early December there were worried looks exchanged among the organizers about the ability to repeat the successes of previous years. These fears were put to rest in short order because of the response of the Campbell River Community to the needs of the fund. When crunch time was near the community donated food, toys and money so that all who had applied for a hamper could be helped, and helped in abundance.

The actual building of the hampers began in the late afternoon of Friday Dec. 16 when unsolicited volunteers from the community appeared to “do the shopping.” Some of these volunteers also appeared the next morning at 6:30 a.m. in the cold, dark parking lot of the Tyee Plaza to double-bag the turkeys that were to be delivered that day. By 8 a.m. the depot was once again filled with members of the community to build the hampers. In addition there was a veritable convoy of trucks, vans and cars to take care of the deliveries. One of the volunteers stated that at the request of his daughter, he had been delivering for nearly fifteen years and it had become part of their Christmas tradition. Now his daughter, in her late teens, was doing the driving. By 2 p.m. the dust had settled and well over 1,000 hampers had been made and shipped out.

The next day, Sunday Dec. 18 there were people who came to the depot to get the hamper that had not, for one reason or another, been delivered to their home on the previous day.

It was then that one got a sense of the importance of these hampers to the recipients. An elderly lady, on being escorted to her car with her food and present started to cry and confessed that she had no family and this hamper was “her Christmas.”

A young mother similarly started to cry as she picked up her family’s hamper, admitting that it had been a lean year and that the generous hamper and toys for the kids were a welcome gift without which they would have had no Christmas.

It was a humbling and intensely gratifying experience to witness these emotions as it was made quite clear that the majority of us are indeed so very fortunate. These scenes will linger in the memory forever.

For those interested in statistics, there were 1177 hampers built and given out to a total of 3758 people. In this group were 155 seniors aged sixty-five or more and 1550 children aged sixteen or under.

To all the individuals, businesses, service clubs, schools, labor and sports organizations that made donations to allow the joy of Christmas and fellowship to be spread, the Knights of Columbus give you their deepest thanks. Well done Campbell River, well done indeed!

Kevin Gearey

Knights of Columbus