It wasn’t just the high winds and biting cold or the stirring skirl of Josh MacDonald’s bagpipes that gave us goose bumps this year as we loaded finished hampers into the Salvation Army’s trucks. It was the satisfaction of contributing thousands of pounds of wholesome, fresh food to help meet an unprecedented request for food help over the holiday season.
For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, as expected, it was a mad scramble the first hour or so as we ricocheted like pinballs trying to adapt our normal system to the quirks of a heritage building. Poor James Van dam must have shifted those hampers from room to room a thousand times! Luckily, head elves Sandra Fraser, Sally Glover, Dan Doherty, Rhona McAdam, Laura, Josh & Paul MacDonald, Maryl Mckay, Lisa Pacquin, Sarah and James Van Dam, and an army of experienced and trained-on-the-spot elves pulled it all off with panache.
Ready for this year’s final hamper count? An impressive 137 hampers (4 of them vegetarian and 21 of them gluten-free), plus 3 cartons of bulk oranges, 2 of bulk apples, 2 of green veggies, 2 of onions, 2 of potatoes, 2 of gluten-free goodies, over 40 cans of cranberry se, a box of extras like baby food–and $360 cash for the Salvation Army to use for more hampers!
Last year we made 158 hampers. We didn’t finish that many hampers this year, but with our cash donation and the massive amounts of bulk food we donated this year, we contributed almost exactly the same dollar value.
Added to the challenges of a new venue, an unprecedented number of people contributed last minute cash instead of food items so our runners found that when sent to buy turkeys they were either unable to find enough smaller turkeys, or unable to take advantage of lower priced “one per purchase” specials. This slowed down our ability to complete hampers but boy did we learn a lot! Plans are now afoot to place a bulk turkey order in advance and have the birds delivered for next year’s party. Suggestions are welcome…
Victoria College of Art wasn’t as intimate as a private home, but how delicious to have a real parking lot, so much space, and big work tables. No more aching backs from hunching over to bag produce on the floor! Best of all, there was room for live musicians. Thanks so much to the Dream-A-Littles trio for spoiling us with a beautiful concert. That serene break in the hectic workday contributed so much to the festivities. Hopefully, live music will become a permanent party addition.
This was a real paparazzi party, with CHEK TV coming out to cover the event and our long time party shutterbugs Richard Hum and Gary McKinstry photo-documenting every aspect of the event. Gary was photographing the party for Boulevard magazine so they can run a pre-Christmas article next year to inspire others to have their own parties.
Even as we were busily packing our hampers, parties we’ve inspired were simultaneously doing the same in other cities. We haven’t heard back yet from the Mississauga party, but near the end of the day the San Diego party texted that they’d hit 62 hampers, their all-time record, and Patricia Hansell, who came to last year’s party and was utterly hooked, emailed us the day before:
Just wanted to let you know that the inaugural Oak Bay party was a huge success. We not only made our goal of 5 hampers, we doubled it! We delivered 10 overfilling hampers to the Salvation Army this evening. Everyone had a blast, loved the idea. A few even suggested they might have their own party next year!
We’re not sure if we’ll make it by tomorrow, so if we don’t see you good luck and Happy Holidays. Thank you so much for your support! The Hamper Party is close to being a yearly tradition in Victoria 🙂
Now it’s post-party and quiet here in the dining room where so many hampers have been packed over the years. Thanks to everyone for providing healthy, wholesome fresh food to so many families in need. We couldn’t have done it without the overwhelming generosity of:
Victoria College of Art
Morning Fresh Eggs on Blenkinsop
Thrifty Foods Hillside
Arctic Bear Productions Inc.
Oak Bay Pharmasave
Oak Bay Fairway Market
Sweet Delights Candy Boutique
Now sit back and enjoy all the blessings of the holiday season. You deserve it!
See you next year,
Joyce & Peter