Christmas Hampers program kicks off in Tri-Region


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The season of giving is upon us.

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This year, the need for gift donations in the Tri-Region is greater than ever. From now until Monday, Dec. 12, the Kinsmen Club of Stony Plain and the Kinette Club of Spruce Grove will be accepting toy and gift card donations at various locations across both communities for the annual Christmas Hampers program.

“We’re prepared. The Tri-Region is so supportive when it comes to helping their neighbours. We know the community is there to support their friends, neighbours, and coworkers. We’re going to make Christmas brighter for so many families,” said Ed Berney, Chair of the Kinsmen Club Christmas Hampers program.

Last year’s gift hampers supported 1,300 families (roughly 4,000 people and 1,500 children). The “upsized” food hampers included a total of $175,000 worth of grocery gift cards. Currently, there are roughly 800 families in the region who are pre-registered to receive Christmas hampers in December. Based on this number, Merkel said the two non-profits are expecting a 20 per cent increase in demand this year (roughly 1,600 families and 1,800 children). Parkland Food Bank, a partner of the Christmas Hampers program, is feeding 30 per cent more people this year than it was in 2021.

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While gift donations must be made by Dec. 10, cash donations, which are used to upsize the food hampers with grocery gift cards, are accepted all year long. So far in 2022, the Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs have raised roughly $30,000 for the upcoming holiday season. Each year, however, Berney said the bulk of financial donations tends to pour in during November and December when residents start thinking about the holidays.

“We’re blessed to have such a supportive community in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Parkland County. Without the donations, we wouldn’t have these hampers going out every year. What comes in is what goes out each year,” said Trina Merkel, Chair of the Kinette Club Christmas Hampers program.

Since these donations in many cases make up the only gifts their recipients receive, all donations must be either new and unopened toys or new and unused gift cards. This year, the gift hampers will be distributed on Friday, Dec. 16, at Spruce Grove Alliance Church (250 Century Road) and Heritage Park Pavilion in Stony Plain (5100 41 Avenue) while the food hampers will be distributed throughout December at Parkland Food Bank in Spruce Grove (105 Madison Crescent).

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The primary gift donation locations for the Tri-Region are Spruce Grove’s Superstore, Walmart, and Canadian Tire. However, roughly 200 additional donation bins have been placed in local businesses and retail stores across all three communities. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs will host separate toy drives at Red Apple Store in Stony Plain and Winners in Spruce Grove to conclude the donation period. Last year, Red Apple Store singlehandedly raised more than $27,000 worth of toy donations for the Christmas Hampers program.

“Everybody in the community comes together. It’s really heartwarming to see most businesses will have a bin outside their door,” said Berney.

Further, Stony Plain’s three Tim Hortons locations will once again donate all holiday smile cookie proceeds from Dec. 5–11 to the Kinsmen Club. This marks the second trial of the partnership which was first approved by Tim Hortons Canada in 2021. Last year, the three locations sold a total of 18,383 cookies during the week-long initiative. Berney said he hopes a second successful trial will convince Tim Hortons Canada to expand the program into other communities across the country including Spruce Grove.

To register for a Christmas Hamper this year, call Parkland Food Bank at 780-962-4565.

“Even though both communities are expanding. It still feels like a small tight-knit community that takes care of each other,” said Merkel. “It’s the community that puts on the hampers; the Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs just happen to be the conduit. It’s hard to explain how important it is for the recipient families to know their community cares about them,” said Berney.

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