BONNYVILLE - Once again, The Knights of Columbus and Santa’s Elves are partnering with local grocery stores to deliver food hampers and gifts to hundreds of Bonnyville families in need.
This year, the community is being asked to raise $100 per hamper, with Sobey’s and Brosseau’s supplying the items for the hampers. The deadline to apply for the program is Dec. 1, and application forms can be picked up and dropped off at the Bonnyville Native Friendship Centre.
“We've been doing the hamper program for 40 years, and it seems like every year there's an increase in the number of applicants or families that need hampers,” says Knights of Columbus member David Scott.
With inflation draining people’s wallets as food prices continue to rise, this charitable program ensures families are fed during Christmas time. Scott anticipates providing between 280 and 300 hampers to families in Bonnyville.
The hampers will include classic Christmas food like ham, turkey, bread, and mandarin oranges.
In Bonnyville, over 200 families apply for assistance yearly – some are repeat applicants, and some are new.
“After we deliver on Dec. 16, I continue to get contacted by some families who are pretty desperate for help during the Christmas season,” says Scott.
Despite the financial hardships weighing on some families, Scott expresses gratitude for the community's support, highlighting his organization’s commitment to helping those in need.
Donations can be sent by cheque to Knights of Columbus.
Hundreds of gifts will also be given out this year as part of Bonnyville’s long-running Santa’s Elves program, which runs parallel to the Knights of Columbus program.
“We never know the names of the recipients of our gifts,” says Bonnyville Centralized High School Principal Mark Centazzo. Instead, only the number of people in a family and children’s ages are known.
Although there’s a level of anonymity, toys and gift bags are put together with care for each age level and include things from Lego to teddy bears, dolls, model rockets and more.
The collections are usually organized by school staff, but this year students are also helping.
“We want to help kids in need. Families have been struggling. We’re hoping we’re bringing smiles to kids who may not have such a great Christmas otherwise,” Centazzo says.
Donation boxes for toys are available at Ducharme Motors, the Red Apple Store on Main Street, and Bonnyville Centralized High School.