Christmas hampers in jeopardy after pipe bursts at Chilliwack church

A flood at St. Mary's Catholic Church could leave several Chilliwack families without Christmas hampers this year.

A flood at St. Mary’s Church could leave several Chilliwack families without Christmas hampers this year.

On Thursday evening, a pipe in the church’s washroom burst, and wasn’t discovered until Friday morning.

The gym, stage, and preschool were all flooded.

It was in the gym where donations for Christmas hampers were being stored.

“We lost about 40 per cent of the donations,” said Father Nelson Santos, who estimated the loss to be around $3,000-$4,000.

Toys, clothes, cereals, and other items in cardboard boxes were ruined. The only items salvageable were those in tin containers.

Every year needy families in Chilliwack apply to receive a food hamper for Christmas.

This year, there were 85 requests; the largest number St. Mary’s has had.

“Normally we provide for 40 to 45 families, but this year we had 85 requests,” said Santos. “I know with this economic downturn many people have lost their jobs … it’s unbelievable today how many people are going through really bad times,”

St. Mary’s Church is the second largest distributor of Christmas hampers in Chilliwack, next to the Salvation Army.

The school and church have been collecting donations for the hampers for the past month.

“The sad thing is for the people out there who needed this stuff, and looked forward to the hampers,” said Santos. “I would feel bad if we were not able to give to them at Christmas.”

With Christmas less than two weeks away, Santos still has faith.

At Sunday’s church service, an announcement was made, and donations trickled it. But more is needed.

“Not much has been replenished because word just went out [Sunday],” said Santos.

“Whatever help we can get would be great. This is not for us, it’s for people who need it.”

St. Mary’s church is accepting food donations, as well as monetary donations, that will be used to purchase food and gifts for the hampers.

For more information, call 604-792-2764.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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