The Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program has kicked off for another year, with the organization issuing a plea for more toy donations.
There was a long line up outside of the Progress Building at the Western Fair District on Monday morning, where bags of food and toys will be distributed to families in need all week long.
“Demand is going to be high once again this year… it’ll probably serve 5800 households with hampers and that’s about 6600 kids right here in London who will receive a bag of toys for Christmas,” says Sally Ann spokesperson Shannon Wise.
“We’re looking for toys for all age groups now. Over the weekend there were wonderful people within the city who did drop off numerous toys to our Progress Building and we thank them for that. We are looking for toys for newborns to age 12; as of right now, we only have half of what we need.”
Those who are able to are asked to wait until later in the week since they prefer to not have people waiting outside in the cold but hundreds of people, including Tasha, were out on the first day.
“I’m usually really busy this time of year,” Tasha tells AM980. “I take care of my elderly grandmother who’s 96 and so I’m usually pretty busy so the first day is very important.”
Another Londoner who depends on the program is Lindsay who has a young son.
“I’ve been using the hamper program for probably the last 3 or 4 years. For me and my family, it’s Christmas – if I’m not here standing out in the cold and the wind and snow, we don’t have Christmas.”
Lindsay adds that the food makes a huge difference too.
“It helps a lot. Most families like myself, we can’t afford to be buying a big turkey dinner and whatnot to feed all of the extended family that comes in from out of town.”
Anyone picking up a hamper needs to bring ID for all household members, proof of income from all sources and proof of address.
The program runs from 8:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon all this week, but Wise tells AM980 the Salvation Army never turns away those in need.
“We of course will help anyone in extreme circumstances all the way up until Christmas Eve so even though the hamper and food distribution ends on the 16th, we realize at the Salvation Army that people need our services all the way up until Christmas Eve. In those sorts of circumstances, of course we will have food and toys for them as well.”
With files from Natalie Lovie.