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When the outpouring of support can change lives
The Christmas season may be behind us, but the work we do with community organizations goes far beyond the holidays. Here is just one example of how we are working together year-round to create a hunger-free community:
When I walked into the church that warm December morning, I was immediately greeted with smiles and welcomes. The gymnasium in the Centre Street Church was bustling with activity. Everyone had a role, and everyone was on a mission: to create full and cheery Christmas hampers for the families and individuals this congregation identified as needing help.
The food bank is a huge blessing, and a great partner in helping us to make such generous hampers. When we started this, the need was 250 hampers. Then the next year we did 400, and now this year we have filled almost 700 hampers.
– Pastor Steve Griffin
I was overcome by the feeling of generosity in this busy room. The donations of food were overflowing. There was an assembly line of nonperishables, then fresh vegetables and dairy items. Finally, fresh chickens from Country Lane Farms topped off the hamper. “We help every year and couldn’t imagine not giving back,” Jerry Kamphuis from Country Lane Farms said as he placed a couple more chickens in a passerby’s decorated hamper box.
One family was busy packing their hampers in the car and getting ready to head out to their families. When I asked why they are helping today, they responded with smiles, saying: “It’s a privilege to be able to help!”
Inside, another family was laughing at their struggles to wrap their hamper box like a present. The two young boys and their father were recipients of this Christmas hamper program last year, and this year they are giving back. “We like wrapping these (boxes) like presents, even though we are not very good at it,” said one of the boys. His brother chimed in, “It’s so much fun! Dad is like Santa and we are the elves!”
Our neighbours, our friends, they are all experiencing such difficult times. But we are so blessed to be able to help. This wouldn’t happen without the generosity of the donors and volunteers. It’s an amazing thing to witness!
– Pastor Steve Griffin
This is the third year the Centre Street church has been organizing this Christmas Hamper Program. The congregation holds a food drive at Thanksgiving to help collect nonperishable food items, and thanks to a partnership with the Calgary Food Bank, they can meet the ever-increasing need.
Pastor Steve Griffin explains that “the food bank is a huge blessing, and a great partner in helping us to make such generous hampers. When we started this, the need was 250 hampers. Then the next year we did 400, and now this year we have filled almost 700 hampers.”
“Our neighbours, our friends, they are all experiencing such difficult times. But we are so blessed to be able to help. This wouldn’t happen without the generosity of the donors and volunteers. It’s an amazing thing to witness!” As I open my mouth to agree, Pastor Steve is called away – it’s time to start another orientation for a new group of volunteers who have arrived. He explains the assembly line and answers questions. But it is his use of the verse “Pour out a blessing, there will not be enough room to contain it” that says so much about what I have experienced here.