Dear generous Hamper Party Supporters,
Well, this has to go down one of the most frustrating, gratifying, entertaining and successful parties in years. Without exception, everyone I talked to raved about our
wonderful new home—the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Now that we’ve
wormed our way into their hearts, gotten CCPA directors Ron Schuster and Darold Roles
hooked, and have snagged CCPA for next year’s party, I’ll confess I have been lusting
after this warm and welcoming venue for ages!
Pre-party preparations were a bit of a dog’s breakfast as we tried to work out the best
system for coordinating what people were bringing. Online systems aren’t designed for
our pretty specialized needs, so we truly appreciate your patience with so many emails as
we sorted all this out. Invitations will be much smoother next year!
Three or four days from Party day, with only 30 or 40 turkeys and not much else
promised, we started to get worried. The low response was especially upsetting because
the hamper party blog https://christmashamperparty.wordpress.com, which usually has
people asking about how to hold their own parties, had received a direct request for a
hamper. This has never happened before; people—mostly single parents and the working
poor—are truly desperate.
Of course, in the end, our generous party supporters pulled together and the actual party
was a dream come true. There we all were working together in one big, high ceilinged
church hall while CCPA’s amazingly talented students sang carols and Broadway show
tunes to Jim Hill’s accomplished accompaniment. Several of the Dream-a-Littles also
entertained us again this year, and whenever CCPA’s singers weren’t on stage (yes, we
even had a stage), Michael Heaney was dazzling us at the keyboards.
Our bonnie bagpiper Josh MacDonald worked away as Recycling Elf until he was called
in to work, so instead of piping us out at party’s end, he piped us out for a late afternoon
photo op with Vic News. We were making headway, but still lacking many items, when
Runners Aaron Hall and Head Runner Elf Tracy Yerrell were handed $200 in Thrifty’s
Smile cards. They whipped off to Hillside Thrifty’s where they so charmed the manager
he threw in another $100 card and that was how the day went—from collective strength
Remember that somewhat “frustrating” part in the opening sentence? We are eternally
grateful for, and couldn’t get along without, the cash contributions we receive each year.
Money is convenient to give and enables us to buy hampers and turkeys, milk, produce,
and non-perishables and to top up the hampers with needed items at the last minute.
However, when we received funds only a day or two in advance of the party, or on party
day itself, we were challenged—both this year and last—because grocery stores either
closed early for staff Christmas parties or didn’t have the volumes we needed, forcing our
poor runners to trek through holiday traffic to four or more stores and leaving our hamper
“production line” waiting seemingly forever for them to return. Next year we’ll be able
to give everyone more notice in advance of party day and hopefully donations will come
And so, without further ado, our hamper count this year was…110 hampers, one to a
needy long time party participant, one to the CCPA’s student food bank for a holiday
feast for needy students, and the rest to the Salvation Army along with 100 pounds of
coffee, a case of broccoli, a full hamper of potatoes, and a second full hamper of fruit
and vegetables. The Salvation Army was so grateful, especially for the coffee, as they
provide so much of it to people needing to warm up from the cold.
Sally Ann Community Outreach Director, Pat Humble, has already sent us a very moving
thank you email which I’ve reprinted at the end of this one. He wanted me to tell you
that people often come for food aid bringing a small bag in hopes of receiving a few
items. When they are handed one of our brimming, beautiful hampers many break into
What we do is incredibly important because it is an act of faith. It is tangible proof
to the families getting our hampers that we believe they are worthy of our respect and
caring. Special thanks to co-organizers Janet Munsil and Tracy Yerrell, CCPA’s Ron
Schuster, Darold Roles, Dan Costain, Heather Jarvie, and student rep Emily Blake—all of
whom worked for days on this year’s party—to head elves James Van Dam, Lisa Paquin,
Kathy Peddlesden, Rhona McAdam, Laura, Paul and Josh MacDonald, Aaron Hall, Dan
Doherty, Maryl McKay, Val Sharp and Sherry Blake, media maven Janis LaCouvee,
Peter Such, the staff and students at CCPA, and to our generous donors:
Morning Fresh Eggs – Blenkinsop
Level Ground Coffee
Thrifty Foods Hillside
Thrifty Foods Quadra and Cloverdale
Thrifty Foods Fairfield
TD Bank Oak Bay
Howe & Gramlich Wealth Management
To everyone who contributed to the party from near or afar—we couldn’t have done it
without you. And now, a true holiday gift to warm you on a cold winter night: here is Pat
Humble’s beautiful letter to you wherever you are. –Joyce Kline
I hope this email is not intrusive but i just wanted to express my gratitude as well as on behalf of all hamper recipients for your spirit of giving once again this Christmas season! We are privileged to be able to deliver
these baskets of love and compassion to those in need.
We have already delivered approx. two dozen hampers tonight after leaving your party and were met with tears of joy, awe, and humility as the true spirit of Christmas
is once again rekindled in the lives of these special friends of ours realizing
they are not alone, those that are not able to venture out on their own and
might otherwise go without. Your generosity of time and talents and gifts
is an extraordinary iconic part of our Christmas Tradition at The Salvation
Army and amongst those that have come to rely on us for support.
You are making a difference in this world!!
I pray God’s blessing over you!
Pat Humble – director, The Salvation Army