Brenda Dondo (left) and Laura Miden (far right) as well as volunteer Judy Pasemko collect toys donated from Red Apple employees and customers on Wednesday. Manager Cassandra Curdie and employee Marilyn Pinvidic (middle) help bring the toys to the Ho Ho Holiday Gift Shop.

Community generosity overflows the food bank in District of Kent

Locals raise funds and food for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services

 

Multiple fundraising efforts for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services (AHCS) has led to overflowing shelves and stuffed hampers for families in need this Christmas.

Businesses, organizations and individuals have all been busy fundraising for this local nonprofit group that provides individuals and families with a large Christmas hamper and toys each December.

“Our shelves are overabundant right now,” remarks Brenda Dondo, special events co-ordinator at AHCS.

She has watched with wonder at the outpouring of support from the local community.

“I’ve worked for nonprofits for many years, and this has been such an amazing experience for me personally,” she says. “We are so fortunate to have the generosity of this community here.”

Red Apple hosted a BBQ outside last Friday, adding $455 to the help buy gifts for kids this Christmas. Since the start of their fundraising efforts for Community Services this season, Red Apple raised $3,126 value in toys for the Community Service’s Christmas hampers. Dondo and Laura Midan, executive director of AHCS plus volunteer Judy Pasemko picked up the cartfuls of toys Wednesday morning from Red Apple.

“This is wonderful,” Midan exclaimed as they rolled the buggies down Pioneer Ave. towards the hamper distribution building.

The Agassiz Fire Department did a food drive with help from Agassiz-Harrison Search and Rescue, scouts and BC Ambulance in early December. They went door-to-door collecting cash donations, food and even toys.

Fire Chief Wayne Dyer says while the food drive went well, it was a late arrival donation that really floored him. After collecting 5,149 food items and more than $1,000, he received a call last week from an donor for another cash donation to add to the total. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote a cheque for $5,000.

“I was quite surprised,” says Dyer. “That will go a long way.”

All told, the emergency service’s food drive brought in $6,110 for Agassiz-Harrison Community Services.

Grade 5 and 6 students at Harrison Hot Springs Elementary School raised almost $160 for AHCS from raffling off two gingerbread houses. And the Agassiz library ran a food for fines program, allowing patrons to bring in donations for the food bank in exchange for waiving of fines.

Agassiz Elementary Secondary Schoool did a fundraiser and St. Anthony’s church also collected food and toys. The RCMP did their annual Stuff the Cruiser event, collecting food donations and the 47th annual Carol Festival raised $1,591.

All the money raised for AHCS goes towards supplying the food bank and the Christmas hamper program, explains Midan.

“I am very impressed with the generosity of this community,” she says. “It’s heartwarming.”

This year, the 153 families who have registered for a hamper will be coming into Community Services today to receive a Christmas-themed hamper with a turkey and special indulgence foods that most families in need just can’t buy on their own like chips and dip or other treats. They will also receive a regular hamper that is distributed every month.

On top of that, parents get to go into the Ho Ho Holiday Gift Shop and pick out a toy for their kids. The room is jam-packed with games and toys for all ages of kids.

“It empowers them to feel good about themselves, to do the shopping,” explains Dondo, adding while the parents can’t always control their financial situation, this gives them control to pick a special gift for their children.

As part of the hamper program, AHCS organized an Adopt-A-Family program this year. Their goal was to have 25 per cent of families “adopted” by someone and they surpassed that goal. The rest of the hampers are put together by AHCS.