Every year, Riverside advisories work to create Christmas hampers for less fortunate families in the community. However, this year, the Christmas Hampers were organized somewhat differently by teachers Sheri Thomasen, Kasey Chittenden, and Adrienne Chapell, alongside the organization SHARE. Through the SHARE program Caring Neighbours, hampers are catering to the specific needs of families in the community. This year SHARE picked up the hampers on Thursday, December 17, and then will distribute them to families in need.
This year, things had to be done differently due to COVID-19. SHARE was unsure if doing the hampers would be a feasible option this year due to social distancing restrictions, and so they gave the option of putting all the donations together in a food bank style collection instead of individual families. They said they would still more than happy to accept non-perishable food donations. Thomasen asked if they would also accept toys and gift cards, to which they said yes.
Thomasen got together with fellow organizing teachers to discuss the best way to organize this year’s hampers now that it must be done differently. In previous years, donations have been collected through RAP. However, this year Riverside did not have RAP. They decided that this year donations should be collected within learning groups, to maximize COVID-19 safety. Thomasen commented on the hampers and the current pandemic situation, “We just tried to figure out the best way to organize it so that we still had holiday spirit and the sense of giving.”
Even though Riverside’s donations to SHARE looked very different than in previous years, the hamper tradition still went ahead with success. “We know darn well it’s not going to be the same as other years, or as heart-warming when you are able to go and see the family your efforts help, but you know what? It is what it is, and we’re still doing something, which is good,” said Thomasen.
As a way to promote donations this year, Chittenden came up with the idea to create paper stars that represent the items that have been brought in. After something is donated, the corresponding star goes on the door of the classroom. Thomasen compared the concept to when you give a donation at a store and they put up a star to represent all the people who have donated. “We just wanted some sort of physical way to show that we have handed something in,” said Thomasen. Some of the stars had written on them: staples, toiletries, cans, breakfast, gift cards, and more. Grade 12 CLC students volunteered to cut out the stars for classes. A Grade 12 student brought in boxes from her work for the donations to be collected in. The same students went around the building on December 17 and collected the boxes and any money or gift cards for SHARE to pick up.
The G-20 graduating class also generously donated $500 towards this year’s hampers as they had extra funds due to canceled grad activities. This amount was in addition to the $1060 in cash, $655 in gift cards, and all the food donations that the Riverside community collected. When SHARE came to pick up Riverside’s donations, the driver said, “I think this is a record. We have to go back and drop all this off before we can go to other schools.”
Riverside came through again with the spirit of giving to help make Christmas a bit more special for some this year!