'It's been shocking for our team': CFAX Santas Anonymous seeing more than double the usual demand for Christmas hamper program
On Monday, CFAX Santas Anonymous opened up applications to the community for its Christmas hamper program. Just four days into the registration process, there was reason for concern. The response has been unprecedented.
“To see such an incredible response right out of the gate, it’s been shocking for our team and worrisome at the same time,” said Christine Hewitt, executive director of CFAX Santas Anonymous Society.
Santas has already had 512 families register for help. That equates to 958 adults and 1,190 children, more than double the number that had registered by the same time last year.
“We’re proud and confident that Santas Anonymous will be able to fulfill our commitments to the families that register for help, but it just shows the need in our community,” said Hewitt.
Throughout the pandemic, need in the community has grown. Some families that were struggling to make ends meet have begun to fall through the cracks.
“Need is going up,” said Treska Watson, food security manager for the Mustard Seed food bank.
“We’re busier than ever and it’s just continually growing.”
Both the Mustard Seed in Victoria and the Goldstream Food Bank in Langford have seen a 10-per-cent spike in monthly demand. That demand is leaving shelves nearly empty.
“Any donations that can be given at this time are sorely needed,” said Stephen Bell, executive director of the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
Our Place held a turkey dinner last Wednesday at 919 Pandora Ave. Attendance was lower than usual, but not because the need wasn’t there. It’s because the organization was also delivering dinners to the five hotel locations that Our Place now runs, which are now housing its usual client base.
The CFAX Santas Anonymous Christmas hamper program provides three bags of groceries to families, a $75 grocery store gift certificate and a gift for a child to put under the Christmas tree.
Hewitt says if you would like to help to make the Christmas season a little better for a family in need, now is the time to do it. The requests for help are rolling in like they never have before.
“Making a financial donation, for instance, will help us buy the food for the groceries,” said Hewitt. “Making a purchase for a child – either through the virtual tree of wishes or finding us in some of the local shops this winter – will help as well.”