ST. PAUL - While the process to get hampers and toys together this holiday season may have looked drastically different than past years, the efforts will nonetheless help over 100 families celebrate Christmas with plenty of food and a few gifts to open.
A total of 148 hampers were put together by Town of St. Paul FCSS and County of St. Paul and Elk Point FCSS departments, alongside Cornerstone Co-op who helped with the food hampers, and Santa's Elves who organized gifts for children.
Town of St. Paul FCSS director Lynn Smid says a few late requests also came in, after the hampers had already been assembled. And while it proved to be a bit tricky logistically to get a traditional hamper together for those families, organizers were able to provide about 25 households with gift cards to ensure no one was let out.
Smid says this year's partnerships worked really well. Normally, the Knights of Columbus organize the food hampers, but had decided earlier in the season to step away due to challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization still donated to the cause, helping as they could.
A total of $2,650 came through the Cornerstone Co-op in the way of donations for the hampers. The Santa's Elves also had their fair share of challenges this season, with students not able to help out in the same was. But, they also received some extra help financially, such as the Town of St. Paul providing $750 to the cause, which is outside of the municipality's typical policy.
Smid commended the community for supporting the hampers once again.
On Dec. 18, the St. Paul Rec. Centre acted as the home base for the hampers. While normally putting the hampers together involves a list of volunteers, that was not possibly this year. Instead, small groups organized everything for the safe Monday pick-up.
On Monday, families receiving hampers drove up to the Rec. Centre, received the hampers, and safely continued on their way without leaving the safety of their vehicles.
"People were just very thankful," said Smid. She acknowledged that it is a brave thing to ask for help, which is what these families did.
"We're just thankful we were able to step in and be that helping hand," said Smid, who was somewhat relieved with how smoothly everything came together.
The Town of St. Paul FCSS office will be closed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3, reopening on Jan. 4.