WEB ONLY: Group helped more families at Christmas than ever before

Perhaps nothing il­lustrates the spirit and stress of Christmas more than working at the two area food banks here.  The numbers of families in need this Christmas increased to 64 – up nearly  15% over just a year ago.

Moms and dads sick with worry often break into tears of relief at the gifts and food that would mean their children would not be going without this year.

Food bank coordinator Kelly Stockdale said, “I was so inspired by the wonderful gen­erosity of people here. Some would just show up at the office with gifts for an entire family.  I needed gas gift cards for some men on my list; I just made a couple of phone calls – and before I knew it, I had all I needed. It was amazing to see.”

Stockdale added, “I just hope the forecasters are wrong and we don’t see further in­creas­es in people needing food bank services.”

Not one family went with­out gifts, a full turkey dinner, and enough food to make their Christmas season special – all because the community re­spond­ed with overwhelming gen­erosity. Many volunteers helped put hampers together.

Staff at East Wellington           Community Services also went above and beyond, putting in many extra hours to make sure each family was well taken care of this year. Staff and volunteers delivered hampers to families who found them­selv­es part of an increasing number of working poor.

Staff made emergency shop­ping trips on behalf of donors to ensure the often-over­looked young men in the families received gifts too.

 The Star Light, Community Bright annual Christmas appeal also resulted in some generous donors, and although the num­ber of replies was significantly down from last year, it was still a successful  campaign in light of the current economic environment.

“When people are worried about their jobs it’s  difficult to write a cheque to a charity – even one they care about,” said the agency’s executive director, Glenyis Betts. “It’s totally un­der­standable. I just hope things are better for all of us next year.”

East Wellington Commu­nity Services thanked the in­divi­duals and organizations who gave.  Since 2009 might be a challenging year, its officials believe with the support of this community, they can help families in need and find hope for the future.