Elves already at work with Christmas Sharing Program

Chilliwack Community Services volunteers are collecting gift donations to fill hundreds of holiday hampers for the annual sharing program.

Chilliwack Community Services coordinator Sheena Sedman works with volunteers to fill hundreds of holiday hampers for the annual Christmas Sharing Program.

Did you know that Santa has a secret workshop right here in Chilliwack? It’s fluttering with volunteer elves organizing toys and spreading Christmas cheer.

The tables and shelves are starting to fill with donated toys, clothing and stocking stuffers as Chilliwack Community Services (CCS) volunteers fill hampers for the annual Christmas Sharing Program.

According to Christmas Sharing Coordinator Sheena Sedman, they’ve “just begun to scratch the surface” in terms of collecting donations and filling applications, but they chip away at it every day.

CCS Executive Director James Challman explained that the history of the Christmas Sharing Program extends back to the origins of Chilliwack Community Services in 1928.

Today, CCS continues to team up with the Salvation Army to provide gifts and food to those who are struggling financially during the holiday season, ensuring that every child in Chilliwack is smiling on Christmas day.

Last year the program provided 502 holiday hampers to families in Chilliwack. More than $130,000 worth of toys and gifts were given to over 1,000 children.

To accomplish such an astounding feat, more than 200 volunteers donated upwards of 1,400 volunteer hours.

This year, volunteers spend the mornings organizing the donations that they’ve received from generous organizations and toy drives thus far. They take on the task of “shopping” for individual hampers every afternoon.

The annual Chilliwack Mount Cheam Rotary Club Volleyball tournament on Nov. 27 and 28 brought in over 417 toys and $20,000 to the program.

They have collections of board games, rows of Barbie dolls, and tables of soccer balls. Larger items like bicycles and a herd of rocking horses fill the floor. But they have a long way to go.

If you want to check an item off of a local child’s wish list, visit one of the many Angel Trees in town to pick up an Angels Anonymous tag, which includes the name, gender and age of a child in need. Place the unwrapped gift under the tree to be picked up by CCS.

Look for Angel Trees at CCS Downtown, Mary Street or Sardis offices, at the Chilliwack and Cottonwood Mall, local Dairy Queens, Envision Credit Union, RBC Royal Banks, Vancity Credit Union, the Royal Hotel and elsewhere.

There is also the option of sponsoring a specific family, where an individual or group will purchase all the gifts on the family’s list.

Upcoming toy drives include the Chances/Murray toy drive Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Chances Chwk, the REMAX toy drive on Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at IHOP, and the Chilliwack Chiefs teddy bear and toque toss on Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. at the Prospera Centre.

“I cannot believe how much the community has already come forward to help out. We’ve had lots of donations and volunteers stepping up before the program even officially started,” said Sedman, who is in the role for her first year.

“Helping out with this program leaves you with a really good feeling,” she continued.

Anyone who wishes to apply for a hamper must do so in-person with all necessary documents at #4-9360 Mill Street before Dec. 12.

The food and gift hampers will be joyously distributed together on Dec. 21 and 22 at the Salvation Army Church (46420 Brooks Ave).

When it comes to donations and volunteers, the more the merrier.

Great gifts for teens, a group that often receives the least amount of donations, include: gift cards, toiletries, earbuds, books, pyjamas and warm clothing.

Contact the CCS office at 604-792-4267 or online to learn more about application or donation inquiries.  Call Sheena at 604-316-4275 for volunteer information.

Gift Suggestions:

Arts and crafts ages 3-8 Activity books ages 3-8 Basketballs, footballs, soccer balls Bicycles (used & new) Bike helmets Blankets, sleeping bags Books for ages 0-18 Boots for winter Cameras Car seats, booster seats CDs, DVDs, MP3s Coats for winter Gift cards Hockey sticks Infant sleepers, onesies Learning toys, e.g. Lego, dress-up, blocks, imaginative play Nursery equipment Phone cards Puzzles for all ages Pyjamas, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies (M, L, XL) Tickets to cinema, sports, theatre, gym or pool Toddler toys Toiletries Socks, gloves, hats Wallets, purses Watches

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