Christmas came early this year for the Lake Cowichan Food Bank and the Christmas hamper program through Cowichan Lake Community Services.
On Oct. 25, Jean Atkins, exulted ruler of the Lake Cowichan Elks Association, along with Gordon Croft, the associations treasurer, donated $1,000 to each of these not-for-profits.
Betty Sanddar, president of the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, Cindy Vaast, and Katherine Worsley accepted the donation on behalf of the food bank.
“This is a generous amount,” said Worsley.
In the past, donations have usually been around $500.
“I don’t think it will be less than this ever again,” said Croft. “If we can make it more, we will.”
Most of the funds will go towards the purchasing of perishable items, says Worsley.
The food bank hopes to start a milk program by January. They would like to be able to provide milk for children and nursing or pregnant mothers. They are currently looking for a business to work with them to get this program off the ground.
They are still on the lookout for harvested fruits and vegetables as lake area gardens begin to be put to bed for the winter.
The Community Services Christmas Hamper program also received $1,000.
Angie Fournier, bookkeeper and office coordinator at Community Services, says the money will help to ensure a Christmas for those who might otherwise have gone without.
“We get non-perishables donated and we get toys donated, but in the end we still have a grocery bill to pay,” said Fournier. “So the cash donations really make a difference.”
Community Services purchases turkeys, hams, and other perishables that go towards making sure that each recipient has all the fixings for a Christmas dinner.
Last year, the program provided 225 Christmas hampers to individuals and families in the Cowichan Lake area.
Volunteers are needed to assemble hampers and help with distribution. If you are available to help with assembly on Dec. 18 at 9:30 am, please contact Community Services at 250-749-6822, or in person during business hours and ask to be put on the volunteer list.
All funds for these two donations were generated through Duncan Dabbers Bingo and other fundraising events throughout the year, according to Croft.
“Apart from the gaming we’ve got penny boxes in various locations . . . we’ve got a permanent cannon bottle drive, and occasionally we’ll get special Elk’s pins in and we’ll sell those, which goes to charitable causes and stuff like that. Plus we’ve got some funds segregated that are non-gaming that we’ve built up over the years that we use for donations,” said Croft.