This year, Virden Christmas Cheer Board has packed up and sent out more hampers than in recent history - 108 small, medium and large hampers were delivered last week to households throughout Virden, McAuley, Manson, Oak Lake and Elkhorn. (Reston and Miniota communities have their own Christmas Cheer organizations.)
“It literally is to ‘cheer’ people. It’s a very humbling experience, seeing families receive their hamper,” says Kathy Heaman of the Christmas Cheer Board. “We’re giving them something they might not have had for Christmas. It puts things into perspective,” she added.
Collecting that has been ongoing for weeks culminated in eight busy days, packing the hampers at the Virden Legion Hall.
Food and gifts for adults, children and even pets were sorted under the direction of the Christmas Cheer Board’s Lisa Williams, Kathy Heaman, Coralee Terin, Frank Van Den Hoek, Maxine Litton and Carol Polk.
They had a lot of help from children’s groups such as Scouts and Guides, a group from Oak Lake, a class from Mary Montgomery School, Funshine Preschool and Virden Junior High.
The McGrath family from Elkhorn collected over 200 toys during Elkhorn’s Light-up event.
Tin in the Bin was set up at the Virden Oil Capitals home games, supported by Valleyview Co-op, where the store matched those grocery donations. And the Oil Caps’ Teddy Bear toss yielded a large batch of stuffies that went out to hamper recipients with children in the family.
When it came time to load up on Dec. 19, the Oil Caps were also the muscles behind the delivery process, riding along with volunteer drivers to get the hampers to the families who needed them.
Both Heaman and Williams have been organizing Christmas Cheer for about a dozen years. Heaman says in the early days, the drive put together about 85 hampers. Last year was the first to distribute over 100 hampers, but this year’s count was the highest.