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Christmas hampers to benefit hundreds of West Kelowna residents
Several West Kelowna families lined up outside Westside Community Food Bank's satellite depot in the Westbank Towne Centre Mall Wednesday morning to receive Christmas hampers for the holidays.
A turkey, canned foods, cereal, flour, sugar, potatoes, mandarin oranges, milk and even a box of chocolates were some of the food items clients were given Wednesday. They also received toiletries, stuffed animals and a shopping spree in the makeshift toy store.
"We've got 300 Christmas hampers going out over the next two days," Lenetta Parry, executive director of the Westside Community Food Bank, said Wednesday morning, adding 26 families were sponsored directly by businesses and other families in the community this holiday season.
"It's about three times busier over the next two days than we would typically see. Usually, out of the food bank, we distribute about 100 hampers every week."
Parry said the Christmas hampers have lots of "extra little treats" that are included to make Christmas special for clients.
Brittany Diebel arrived Wednesday morning to receive her Christmas hamper. She began to tear up when asked how helpful the hamper will be to her family this Christmas.
"Extremely," said Brittany.
Prior to Wednesday's hamper event, Brittany's mother, Brenda Diebel, donated several products to show her appreciation for the Christmas Hamper Program.
"I do couponing. I don't get the toys and I don't get a lot of food, but I do get a lot of hygiene and cleaning products. So we brought three overflowing shopping carts in here to help, because I appreciate them helping (Brittany)," said Brenda.
"Her dad and I can only do so much…I think it's awesome that people come together and do all of this."
The food bank gave out Christmas hampers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Although there was a line-up at 10 a.m., by 10:30 a.m. the line had disappeared and fewer clients were walking through the door.
Brenda said she knows of several families who could benefit from using the food bank; however, they're hesitant for various reasons.
"With some people I think it's a matter of pride, being afraid and being shy," said Brenda.
"I know some families that could really, really use it, but they're too chicken to come in—that's sad."
Parry said the Christmas Hamper Program wouldn't be possible without the help of "an army of volunteers."
"We've got about 50 volunteers per day to help us out," said Parry.
The executive director of both Westside Community Food Bank and Kelowna Community Food Bank added West Kelowna's hamper program was modelled after Kelowna's this year.
She noted a regular food hamper typically provides a three to five day supply of food; the Christmas hampers should last clients seven to nine days.