Hundreds of families will receive Christmas cheer this year, thanks to the Cochrane Activettes’ annual Share Your Christmas hamper program.
Along with the usual food items, according to food bank chairperson Kathy Tucker, the hampers can include anything from refurbished bicycles to winter clothing and children’s toys.
“Last year, we gave out to 269 families,” she said. “This year, we think we might be upwards of 300 families.”
Chartered as a non-profit society in 1978, according to its website, the Cochrane Activettes is a group of local women dedicated to helping the less fortunate. Along with its yearly Christmas hamper program, the society runs the Cochrane Food Bank and operates The Clothesline – a volunteer-run used clothing store on Centre Avenue.
The Activettes’ Share Your Christmas hamper program extends beyond Cochrane to the communities of Bragg Creek, Bearspaw, Cremona and Morley.
One of the program’s marquee initiatives is the “Stuff a Bus” event, held this year on Dec. 14. The Activettes will be accepting donations in the parking lot of the Cochrane Canadian Tire.
“People can bring brand-new, unwrapped toys that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Tucker said. “It’s a big initiative done through the Cochrane and Area Event Society, and we run it for them. We usually get a ton of toys through that, and that’s part of our program, as well.”
Another component of Share Your Christmas is the Activettes’ decorated gift boxes. According to Tucker, more than 60 donation boxes are located at businesses around town. People can deposit foodstuffs or unwrapped children’s gifts in the boxes, which will be emptied and distributed weekly to families in need until Dec. 15.
“It is a long program. We start working on this very early on and it’s exhausting, but well worth it, for sure,” she said.
This year, Tucker said, the program is in need of non-perishables such as rice, oatmeal, peanut butter and cereal, as well as canned meats and one-litre bottles of juice.
Along with food and monetary donations, she added, the Activettes is always looking for everyday items like toothbrushes and facial tissue.
“All those items will definitely help us get the program off the ground, plus keep our actual shelves full when we’re done this,” she said.
Considering December is known as the season of giving, Tucker said, she encourages residents to help out the Share Your Christmas program this year.
“Times are tough right now, and we anticipate that is going to be in direct correlation to the number of people we service,” she said. “We look forward to another great year with our program.”
For more information, visit cochraneactivettes.com or call 403-932-9290. Donations can be made in person or mailed to Box 535 Cochrane, AB T4C 1A7.