UGM’s Christmas Hamper Program Helps Families Through Hard Times
As winter approaches, many of us begin to think and plan for Christmas. But for the staff and volunteers of UGM’s Christmas Hamper Program, the holiday season has been in full swing for months.
Christmas Hampers—also known as Gifts of Hope—is an initiative that ensures families and seniors in Metro Vancouver have what they need for the holidays. Assembled hampers include everything from toys and clothing to grocery gift cards, wrapping paper, and hygiene items. In the lead-up to Christmas, a Hampers storefront is set up near UGM’s Women & Families Centre, where participants can shop the shelves to select the items that will best suit their families.
“For a lot of these families, the hampers are more than just getting presents for Christmas,” says Joshua, Outreach Worker and program lead. “They rely on this program to get groceries through the holiday season, as well as winter jackets and boots. It's really important to us to make sure that we can provide all those things.”
“The biggest highlight of this Christmas hamper is that you have reminded us how much goodness and kindness the world still has to offer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making our Christmas a loving, memorable one.”
– 2021 Gifts of Hope Recipient
The program also aims to acknowledge the diversity of the communities UGM serves. With hundreds of applications received each year, UGM staff connect with each and every family to talk through what it is they need. Grocery gift cards are a measure to ensure that individuals from all cultural backgrounds can choose the food they receive. “I was raised by a single mom, and my family was a recipient of Christmas hampers almost every year,” shares Joshua. “We were very appreciative of what was given, but I’m sure it would have been even more meaningful for my mom to select the items herself.”
In a year where prices are on the rise, it’s more important than ever that we all help one another, and Christmas Hampers is one example of how the act of giving goes both ways. “There was a woman on our waitlist last year, and she didn't think she was going to receive anything that Christmas,” he recalls. “She had given up hope that her family was going to have a good holiday, but said a prayer. And then I called. When I got in touch with her, she was in tears and said, ‘You must be sent from God.’ It really touched my heart that we were able to support her. And she was overjoyed.”