PREECEVILLE — Filling the Gap volunteers and committee members are busy organizing the upcoming Christmas Hamper program.
The Filling the Gap program has been operating in the local area for well over 20 years, and local community groups, churches, businesses, and individuals contribute all of the funds necessary to make Filling the Gap work. The program has two areas: emergency hampers, which provide food to families in need throughout the year, and the Christmas hamper program, which provides food and children’s gifts at Christmas.
The program makes food hampers all year around.
“There is an answering machine in our office that you can call to make a request. You need to speak clearly, and give your name and contact information.”
The answering machine is only checked one a week, at noon on Thursday. “Please keep this in mind because we can not fill requests after that time, until the next Thursday,” stated Sheila Klebeck, representative.
For the Christmas Hampers, families will receive forms from school to fill out if they feel they need a Christmas Hamper. The family simply fills it out, and returns it to the school by Dec 8.
“We then have an idea how many people we are preparing for. The Dec 8 deadline is critical. Lots of background work goes on in the next two weeks to have the hampers and children's gifts ready for Dec 20, when they will be picked up by families,” said Klebeck.
“We would like to thank each and every person, service group, and business that donates to this program. It is impossible to name them all, and each donation, big or small, whether it is money, or food items, or volunteer time is an essential part of what makes this project possible,” said Barb Biccum, chairperson.
“The need for hampers has increased and since COVID-19, the donations have been really impacted. With the price of living being so high, families and seniors are really faced with some tough times. They are having to sacrifice things they need like medications just to get by. The Christmas hampers fill a void that takes some of the stress and pressure of buying groceries over the Christmas season,” stated Biccum.
The hampers and children’s gifts make a difference to families in our area which includes Sturgis, Preeceville, Endeavour, Buchanan, Stenen, Hyas, Danbury, Hazel Dell, and Okla. All information is kept confidential.
“It takes many, many volunteers and a co-ordinator to make this work. It’s a huge project but very worthwhile and so rewarding to be a part of something that helps local families,” stated Biccum.
The Christmas Hamper program is organized by Filling the Gap which operates under the umbrella of the Preeceville and District Ministerial Association.
Filling the Gap runs entirely on donations, and has been well-supported by individuals, businesses, and service groups in the area. For perishable donations individuals are encouraged to do so by contacting the program. There will be donation boxes set out at selected businesses encouraging donations.
Christmas hampers have been provided for well over 20 years, originally by local churches, and then the project evolved into a more organized program overseen by the family resource centre. Ministerial members expanded the program to include emergency hampers and it became known as Filling the Gap.
Children’s gifts are available to children 15 years and under. The presents are wrapped by a team of volunteers. Gifts are either purchased or donated and include many other items such as new books, toques, scarves, and mittens either bought or made by local residents.
Christmas hampers include a box of donated non-perishable food and bags of flour and sugar, and also the perishable items necessary to have a holiday meal such as a turkey, vegetables, and a box of oranges.
There are many volunteers who contribute anywhere from three to 60 hours of work for this project in addition to the approximately 100 hours of the co-ordinator’s work.
“Volunteers pick up donated and purchased food, wrap gifts, and check all of the donated non-perishable food for expiry dates. On assembly day, volunteers help with putting hampers together and helping arrange for pick up and delivery,” said Biccum.
The Filling the Gap contact number is 1-306-547-5479 and if individuals wish to send a monetary donation they can send it to Filling The Gap, Box 526, Sturgis, SK, S0A 4A0.