Congregants of a church in the southeast took it upon themselves to build a Food Bank in their church basement and are now looking after handing out Christmas Hampers to residents in the RM of Piney, with help from many residents in the southeast corner of the province. 

Rob Dueck, Pastor of Sprague Community Church says, up until a year ago, the RM was looking after hamper distribution, and then just before Christmas 2022, they asked the church to take it over and run it, with expenses shared between the RM and the church.  

As for the toys that go in each Christmas hampers, Dueck says,

“There's a group in the area that got together over the last number of years, and before the Christmas Hampers go out, we get them a list of all the ages and genders (of the kids) and they go out and buy presents for every single one of the children. It's absolutely amazing.” 

He adds they are also assisted by the Jordan's Principle program in Buffalo Point and many individuals from the southeast corner of the province. 

Dueck says they also have plenty of volunteers to help put Christmas Hampers together.

“There are always people wanting to help. Sometimes we actually have more help than we need, which is, you know, kind of funny.”

However, what’s not working so well this year is the ability to purchase food items to put in each hamper, due to a lack of funds. Dueck shares how much they have already received in donations.

“I would say this year, we've probably recovered about half the cost of what it's going to cost us to put the hampers out. Our budget in 2022 was $8,000 and this year will be higher because we definitely have more registrations.”

Dueck says since they buy all the food that goes into the hampers, things can get costly, especially with the price of turkey’s going up.

“In the past we had somebody that donated them, but this year we don't have that. So, if we don't get something like that (turkey's) we'll have to just go and buy them.” He notes, turkeys are not cheap either. “No, everything has just gone up. It's just crazy.”

The RM of Piney Christmas Hamper registration deadline was at the end of November, but Dueck says there are always folks that register late.

"So last year I think we had just over 50 hampers, and this year it looks like it will be 55 for sure, maybe higher.”

Dueck says, he believes the numbers are going up because there are more families moving to the area, but also, the need is greater this year.

“There's been some people that have dropped off the list. There's been some new families that moved into the area that lost their jobs and times are just tough. And some, I think part of it too is just people hearing about it and knowing about it that weren't aware of it before. So, you know, it's a combination of many things.”

He notes though times have been difficult for many, they are staying optimistic.

“We love what we're doing. One thing that has come of this, is how many great friendships we’ve made through this whole thing, the adventure. But it's just been it's just been amazing. We really enjoyed it. We get to meet some amazing people.”

Dueck says, “There's been a lot of people in the community that have been very, very supportive and in different ways, but just knowing that the community is behind us on this has meant a lot to us, you know. Just knowing that they appreciate and that they supported has been really good.”

Christmas Hampers are delivered to residents in the communities of Sprague, Vassar, South Junction, Menisino, Wampum, Piney and Middlebro.

The Sprague Community Fellowship hands out food hampers on the first and third Thursday of every month to residents of the southeast primarily living in the Sprague and Piney area.

Any donations of food, toys or a monetary donation, can be dropped off at Carl & Kay's Fine Foods Store in Sprague. For more information call 204-437-2258. Any monetary gifts of $20 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt.

Christmas Hamper promotion


In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, SteinbachOnline encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the SteinbachOnline app.