Empty Stocking Fund: Through sponsors and hampers, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows find help this Christmas

“It’s hard to put into words how thankful we are as a family to those that do sponsor people.”

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Tamara Tait has been going to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society for help since 2013.

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“It’s made it possible for us to have a Christmas,” she said.

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“Before, when I was a single mom and it was just me and my oldest, I was working full-time and not making very much money. There was one man who used to come into the company where I worked and he told me about the Christmas hamper program. Since then, I’ve been coming to them for help.”

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society gives out food vouchers and runs a Good Neighbour program, where people or groups can sponsor a family. It also runs Rudolph’s Recycle Gift Shoppe, where registered families can take what they can use for their families.

The society is one of 26 B.C. community organizations that receive donations from The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund. With the support of generous readers, the fund gives money to organizations that provide food hampers, vouchers, and gifts to children, needy families, and singles.

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Society chair Tina Kirkpatrick says that she expects that the Hamper Society will help 450 families this year. Last year, it helped 343, including 24 Ukrainian families.

In the sponsorship program, the society provides sponsors with the ages and wish list of each person in the family. Some of the sponsorships come through schools.

Tait, who lives in Maple Ridge with her two kids, her husband and a cat, says that she’s been sponsored “by some really great people over the years.”

“I had one sponsor who set me up with enough food for over two weeks. That was absolutely amazing. It just blew my mind. There was not just the food but gifts for my oldest, stuff for me and stuff for my cats. They really went all out.”

Some sponsors sign up to the Good Neighbour program through area schools.

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“We allocate families based on sponsors requests, such as a single mom with two small children,” Kirkpatrick said.

“Last year and this year, it’s been through my daughter’s school,” Tait said. “They know her likes after spending the last six years with her. They add extra things into the hamper, so she gets spoiled. The kids get spoiled.”

Tait sometimes meets the sponsors when they drop off the gifts.

“I have the thank you card for them, and then thank them personally, as well and express how much help it is.”

Her Christmas traditions begin on Dec. 1, with setting up the tree and starting to play Christmas music and watch holiday movies. They usually start with the 1954 musical White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. In the movie, Crosby and Kaye play entertainers who step in to help save a failing Vermont inn.

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“It’s a great way to start off the season,” Tait said. “It shows what can be done if the community all steps up.”

Tait adds, “It’s hard to put into words how thankful we are as a family to those that do sponsor people. I can only hope one day that will be much better financially where we can help and give a better Christmas to someone else.”

The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund campaign runs until Dec. 31.

Donations can be made by:

Online at: https://theprovince.com/esf

Mail to: The Province Empty Stocking Fund

968 East Cordova St., Vancouver, B.C., V6A 1M6

By calling: 604-253-6911

2023 direct donation link: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/DonationPage.aspx?eventid=385682

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