The Christmas Basket Programs runs every year in Brantford since perhaps the 1930’s providing everyone the Christmas they deserve with food and toys. Run by the Brantford Food Bank and Salvation Army, this year they do not have a place to distribute their goods.
The Christmas Basket Program is an event held by the Brantford Food Bank and the Salvation Army to provide needs for families that find it very difficult around Christmas time. According to the Brantford Food Bank website last year alone they provided toys to 2,184 children and about 5,400 people a Christmas Basket.
“We’ve actually had a number of decrease in families over the years. It has its high peaks and its low peaks, depending on how things are going in our community, like jobs, so some years are higher than others” said Cindy Oliver, the Manager of the Food Bank and Distribution for Brantford.
The entire process of collecting items till Christmas is a handful, trying to find as many people to donate and the right people to ask. Many people each year see the cause and try to help in any way they can.
“We have a Build-a-Bear program where we buy a lot of product and in groups they make their own bears so they are all stuffed so then we are able to give those out as gifts. We have Angel Tree, which is toy related usually, homeless survival kits, stocking stuffers, and then an access to a company asking for donations as well. People come on board that might assist with a truck for Christmas time, all those kinds of things” said William Ratelband, the Family Services Coordinator for the Salvation Army.
This year the food bank had come across an issue of where they would be distributing their baskets. Their location was unavailable and now in a short time span were looking to find a new place.
“Our previous location was a donated space and that place was full…[w]e’ve looked at quite a few different places in the community and I think we have one in mind” said Oliver.
There is an opening in a unit on the north end of Brantford according to Ratelband.
“We were using that facility for the last 4 years but now that wasn’t available this year so I had to search for a property. We have secured the place… 17 Woodyatt Drive Unit 2, which is about 10,000 square feet and is a great space so we were fortunate to be able to secure that” said Ratelband.
Now that a place might be assured the Food Bank and Salvation Army is still looking for volunteers to dedicate their time to help out with families in need.
“Trying to get the word out to media and other TV or paper… we have events that we run, we have a toy drive in partnership with EMS Paramedics, Giant Tiger, that’s going to be December 2nd this year, we have Stuff a Bus at Freshco this year, so that’s being a third year running this year on that. We try to get some exposure, we’ve partnered with Medix College, they do a big a food and toy drive for us. We are involved with our kettle kickoff as well; Salvation Kettle is our main fundraising initiative so we often need volunteers for that. On the days of distribution for our food and toy drive. We have people who takes others around to pick out toys for their kids” said Ratleband.
Many families can’t unfortunately make it to the location where items are being distributed therefore there are alternatives for families, having things being delivered to them.
“People can help to deliver the hampers that’s the thing that we need. People on delivery day come and take the hampers out to people that have no transportation to come and pick them up, so that’s the biggest need we have and that’s going to be on December 22nd. People have to contact us and sign up to volunteer for that day” said Oliver.