Community effort to fill Chilliwack hampers

Chilliwack Salvation Army Church was bustling as volunteers packed food hampers to make Christmas Day bright for the needy.

Dozens of volunteers helped put together the annual Christmas hampers at the Salvation Army Church on Tuesday.

Dozens of volunteers helped put together the annual Christmas hampers at the Salvation Army Church on Tuesday.

The Salvation Army Church on Brooks Avenue was bustling Tuesday as volunteers packed food hampers to make Christmas Day brighter for more than 1,600 people in Chilliwack.

The food hampers include the makings for a delicious Christmas dinner with all the fixings for the whole family, as well as breakfast and lunch ingredients, says hamper program coordinator Brenda Armstrong.

She’s been helping with holiday hampers for the hungry at Sally Ann for a whopping 29 years.

“The numbers of applicants have obviously increased over the years, but we are also finding that more seniors are in need now.”

Single parents applying for a hamper is also on the rise.

“There are some volunteers who only show up at this time of year,” she said. “Some have been helping with the hampers for 20 years. We have prison guards, firefighters, guides and scouts, and more.

“Anyone who has service in their hearts tends to show up,” Armstrong added.

About 100 volunteers stepped up to help with the 1,600 hampers, which make it possible for folks to put on a lovely Christmas celebration for their families. About 255 families were sponsored in the Adopt-A-Family program.

The program serves local families in need, and they start taking applications every November, and are still taking them this week. The program is paid for by Sally Ann donations and hamper program sponsors. The program runs in partnership with Chilliwack Community Services, which provides the toys for the Christmas hampers.

The whole hamper process has its bright spots, Armstrong said.

“It’s the thank-yous you get, the smiles on the faces when they’re picking up the hampers, or the joy when an adopted family finds out they have been sponsored. These are the moments all the way long that can warm your heart.”