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Helping our neighbours in need

Hamper program provides a boost

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 21/01) - While Santa's elves are labouring in the North Pole, Fort Simpson has some thoughtful people filling a similar role.

Friendship Centre staff and youth are assembling the elements needed for a merry Christmas through a hamper program.

As of Monday, close to 85 families were identified as being in need of a hamper, which includes food and toys, depending on the client's needs.

Aaron McNab, executive director of the Friendship Centre, said large families and low-income families are the primary targets, but individuals in need are also assisted. Posters were hung around the community asking residents to submit names of people and families who are wanting.

Last year 105 hampers were delivered in the community, according to McNab.

Over the weekend, 40 hampers, containing turkey and other items for a Christmas meal, arrived from the Salvation Army in Yellowknife. Several of the hampers are earmarked for Wrigley and Jean Marie River this year, McNab said.

Donations towards the program began arriving after letters seeking support were sent out in late November.

"Within the first week we received a total of $800," McNab said, with $500 of that from an annual Union of Northern Workers donation. As of Tuesday, donations totalled $1,900 and another $1,000 US was on the way from an American donation.

McNab said any excess funds would be used towards next year's hamper program.

Of course, monetary donations are only part of the picture.

Some parents have contributed their children's old toys so others can make use of them. Various businesses have offered in-kind donations such as stocking stuffers or vehicle loans for deliveries. Volunteers have also stepped forward to wrap gifts, package them and deliver them.