The Sunshine Coast Elves Club gave out 826 Christmas hampers on Dec. 15 with the help of generous Coasters, although the increase in demand left the Elves a little frazzled this year.
“We had to go out and buy presents at the end of the night,” said Josie Giordano, Sunshine Coast Elves Club president, noting last year the Elves Club distributed 66 fewer hampers. “At the last minute, we had to go out and buy theatre tickets, we bought stuff at the Bargain Shop and we went to A&W and got coupons for burgers and fries for the teenagers and things like that.”
Presents for teens, boys and girls aged 11 and 12 and young girls aged three to four were lacking this year.
Food donations were also down this year, partly due to the late closure of schools, Giordano said.
“We didn’t get the proceeds that we should have from the schools because usually they close the week of the hampers, but they ended up staying open a week later, so now all that food is going to the Food Bank,” Giordano said, noting some schools do food drives specifically for the Elves Club at Christmas.
This year’s Elves Club telethon raised a few hundred dollars less than last year as well, with $21,545 coming in, leaving the Elves Club budget stretched thin with fewer donated presents and food donations than in years past.
Giordano blames the economy for the decrease in donations and the increase in demand for hampers this year.
“I think everybody’s poor,” she said.
However, she is still hopeful more donations will come in to lessen the financial burden on the club, and she is very grateful to everyone who gave to make the hampers possible this year.
“We couldn’t do it without the help of the public and businesses like SuperValu and Gibsons Building Supplies,” Giordano said.
She said SuperValu is always the main food donor for the Christmas hampers, and this year they went a step further, asking their distributor to help out. Loblaw’s agreed to waive freight charges on all food for the hampers, reducing the overall cost.
Gibsons Building Supplies also came to the rescue when they donated a truck to make sure hampers made it to Sechelt on Dec. 15.
“If we didn’t have the use of that truck, I don’t know how we would have delivered them,” Giordano said, noting the club was short on volunteer drivers.
Families that received a hamper on Dec. 15 got all the fixings for a turkey dinner as well as a month’s supply of food for the whole family and presents for everyone to place under the tree.
It costs $80,000 to $90,000 just to provide the food needed, Giordano said.
Donations are still coming in and Giordano said the club likely won’t have a final total until early January, but they are hopeful to have raised enough to cover the worthwhile effort.
She said the club runs a weekly bingo fundraiser at the Gibsons Legion on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. and encourages people to come out to support that initiative.
“We are also in need of a laptop computer if anyone wants to donate one,” Giordano said, noting the club has recently started to use a computer database to cut down on paperwork.
If you have a laptop you would like to donate, drop by the Elves Club depot this week (across from SuperValu in Sunnycrest Mall) or call Giordano at 604-886-4587.