Hamper hand
Salvation Army delivers 430 Christmas hampers

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 15/99) - Time after time, Yellowknifers show themselves to be people who care about their neighbours.

Last month, the city's residents showed one more time how they put their best forward.

Just before Christmas, the Salvation Army called on the city's residents because more food was needed to meet the Christmas hamper demand. And the community responded.

"It's been wonderful to be a part of it,"

Peter Skoropad, community services worker with the Salvation Army, said.

The demand for Christmas hampers was met and the church's continuing programs -- like the soup kitchen run twice daily every day of the year -- will not be cut back.

Skoropad said the Salvation Army buys food year-round for its programs but the overwhelming response by the city not only helped make the hamper program a success but also means the church likely won't have to go grocery shopping for about a month for its other programs.

In Yellowknife, 310 Christmas hampers were delivered.

The church also distributed a total of 120 hampers to families in Lutsel'Ke, Rae, Fort Simpson and Fort Liard.

In all, 430 families -- 789 adults and 887 children -- were helped, Skoropad said.

Some 80 volunteers packed and delivered the hampers.

As part of the hamper effort, the Salvation Army co-ordinates the adopt-a-family Christmas program. Some 99 families -- part of the overall total of 430 -- were sent Christmas hampers in that effort.

Under the adopt-a-family program, offices and companies are given information about a family in need and then put together a Christmas hamper.

"When we received the hamper we were overwhelmed. I was expecting a turkey with the trimmings but what came was two or three boxes of food and three or four boxes of toys for the children," said one recipient in the adopt-a-family program. The individual, who requested his name not be used, said his family still has some of the food left.

Because of the food and gifts, Christmas was much less stressful that it otherwise would have been, he said.

"We're greatful."

Another seasonal program by the church is the Christmas dinner. For the dinner, 45 volunteers gave their time Christmas morning and afternoon to serve 135 people a holiday meal.

Under another program, 225 people -- some in hospital or extended care or at the Yellowknife Correctional Centre -- received Sunshine Bags distributed by the church's League of Mercy.

Skoropad summed up Yellowknifers as individuals "that care."