Although they’re about $25,000 short of their $50,000 goal, Sunshine Coast Elves Club members are promising to deliver basic hampers to families in need this Christmas.
Due to the funding shortfall, the new executive of the Elves Club has decided to get back to the roots this year, delivering smaller hampers focused on Christmas Day. For the past several years, hampers have held enough food to last a family well into the new year.
“All the Elves did originally, going back to the beginning, was Christmas dinner, breakfast and toys and we’ve really gone back to the basics of the charity, really having to,” said Elves Club president Lynn Nestman.
She said people who need to access more food over the holidays can do so through agencies like the Salvation Army.
Despite the shortfall in funding, Nestman said she’s been happy with the public’s support of the Elves Club this year.
“I’m really pleased. You know South Coast Ford’s doing a promo, the doctors are doing a promo, the Blackfish Pub collected 451 toys for us — it was three truckloads — Verna Chan did a Santa shuffle at The Garage — she made money and food for us. So it’s really heart-warming to see how fabulous our community is,” Nestman said, adding many other individuals and groups gave as well. “You live here like myself for 40-plus years, but you just get busy and you forget how wonderful this place is. I say to people, if you’ve lost your Christmas feeling, come work with us because, boy, you sure get it.”
Nestman was also pleased with the turnout and support for last Saturday’s Elves Club Telethon that raised $13,336 for the effort.
The telethon featured more than 50 performers volunteering their time and talents on a stage set up at Sunnycrest Mall in Gibsons where film students from Elphinstone Secondary School captured the acts for Coast Cable.
The venue change from the Heritage Playhouse was meant to help provide an audience for acts throughout the day and a more public location for people to give, but the difficulty of setting up a film studio and stage in the mall may push the annual event back to the Heritage Playhouse next year.
Telethon coordinator Steve Sleep of Coast Cable said he was surprised this year’s telethon didn’t bring in more money, noting last year’s telethon raised more than $20,000.
“I can’t even begin to guess why,” Sleep said, adding that people who gave need to honour their pledges as soon as possible.
The Elves Club will accept donations of food, toys and cash at their depot in Sunnycrest Mall until Dec. 18, which is when hampers start getting packed at the Christian Life Assembly in Gibsons.
Packing will take place until Dec. 20, and on Dec. 21 hampers will be delivered to households by 1 p.m.
This year Nestman expects a drastic drop in the number of hampers being delivered due to some new guidelines that were implemented in 2013.
“You now have to show proof of residency and for children we needed MSP cards,” Nestman said. “It was just so we could make sure that one hamper went to one house … and I don’t think people are dishonest. We had one case of two hampers to one house and the two guys didn’t know they had each put in. They both thought they were surprising each other, so it’s not bad people.”
Before the rules were instituted last year, 874 hampers were delivered. This year Nestman said she’ll “be surprised to see 600.”
The Sunshine Coast Elves Club is still in need of presents for boys aged four to six and more “nice Christmas food,” before Dec. 18 Nestman said, noting it would be good to get some candy for the kids because that was one luxury that had to go this year.
The Elves Club is also looking for pet food and gently used pet toys to give out to four-legged family members this Christmas.
If you have time to give, the Elves Club would love some help packing hampers. Contact Tracey at 604-886-9348 to schedule a time to volunteer.
Delivery drivers are also needed in the Sechelt area on Dec. 21. Call Nestman at 604-886-3966 to become a volunteer driver.
Keep up to date with Elves Club activities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/elves.club.3.