Sponsors needed to make family holiday merry

Chemainus’s Cowichan Neighbourhood House volunteers are urgently calling for support their annual Christmas program for families.

Chemainus’s Cowichan Neighbourhood House volunteers are urgently calling on the community to again support their annual Christmas program for families.

According to Arlene Robinson, CNH steering committee chair, there’s a big shortfall between those stepping up and the list of those in need.

“I know everything’s tight this year. Last year was bad, but this year has been even tougher. A lot of people who donated last year are not able to do it this year. So, we’ve still got 60 families that need sponsoring,” she said Dec. 8.

They have more than 90 families listed, with more waiting hopefully in the wings.

“And those are just the ones who signed up on time. We have a few others that are on what we call ‘standby’. We’ve told them we’ll do the best we can but we have to fill the others first. Right now, we are starting to get referrals from other organizations, like the food bank and the Salvation Army, because their deadlines have come and passed. That happens every year. We had about 40 at the last minute last year that we were gasping trying to find things for but this time it’s even worse.

“We’ve had some wonderful businesses that have either sponsored people or given us something towards the food but we need people to sponsor families. We’re getting there and, because I believe Christmas is about loving and giving, I believe it will all work out, but it’s getting close. We usually try to get the hampers out by Dec. 19,” she said.

People who want to help can find more information by visiting Neighbourhood House in person, calling 250-246-3203 during the day or 250-246-7503 at night or emailing cnhaoffice@shaw.ca

The group is also on the Internet at www.cnha.ca and on Facebook as well.

“As people come in and sponsor, we put those families in red on the list. There are no names involved. It just says: family of six or family of two and what they would be wishing for for Christmas. We ask them to put three things down for each family member. We say we’ll try to get at least one of those things for each one.”

Some of the requests are unusual.

“We have one lady who’s asked for a blood pressure machine!” Robinson said.

“Most people put down things like clothing, socks or shoes. The information online will be updated as it goes along,” she said.

Asked when people must have their sponsorship notification in, Robinson said that they will be accepted almost right up to distribution day.

“We try to hand out the hampers on Dec. 18, 19, 20 and 21. We have had some individual donations coming in, which is also great. Those things are also really helpful, if you can’t sponsor a family.”

She also pointed out that not every “family” includes children.

“We have disabled people, too, and we have a lot of seniors that are in need in this community,” she said.