Bonnyville’s Christmas Hamper and Santa’s Elves Programs are open for donations, with everything raised going to help those in need in the community. Co-chair of the Christmas Hamper Program and Bonnyville’s Mayor, Gene Sobolewski, says they’re expecting a higher number of those in need of the program this year.
Mayor Sobolewski is a member of the local Knights of Columbus organization is heads up the program; with help collecting donations from local businesses, Bonnyville Centralized High School (BCHS), the Bonnyville Friendship Centre and the local grocery stores. There are many forces that come together the ensure the program is success, Mayor Sobolewski explains the grocery stores participation, “we collect the funds and the stores, Sobeys and Brosseaus, make up the hampers for us. We collect extra groceries to add to them.”
To receive a Christmas Hamper and/or Santa’s Elves gifts, members of the community apply at the Bonnyville Friendship Centre, Mayor Sobolewski explains it all confidential. “When a person requests a hamper, they can check if they require Santa Elves gifts, the list is given to me and that’s how they know how many gifts to wrap.” Typically, an applicant would fill in how many children, gender and age, that information (without any names), is forwarded to the BCHS students who then wrap and sort the gifts. Ducharme Motors in Bonnyville is one of the many businesses in town helping the program by collecting new, unwrapped gifts or you can bring a toy to the December 5th Bonnyville Pontiacs’ game.
Mayor Sobolewski says any donations left over from the program is given to the Friendship Centre to help stock their selves at the food bank, “we have an account at the two stores and the remainder of the money would be used at the food bank.” When you go through the till at either location, your cashier should ask if you would like to make a donation to the local food bank and that’s the donations that are forwarded to the Christmas Hamper program.
Mayor Sobolewski suspects there will be a higher demand for hampers this year, “I’ve put out about the same amount of requests for donations, but what I think is going to happen is, we’re going to have more demand for hampers.” Mayor Sobolewski says the community has been very generous in the past to ensure every family has a happy holiday season, “the Santa’s Elves program has been very popular in the past, their gift bags are huge.” Which goes to show Bonnyville’s community spirit and help thy neighbour mentality, states the Mayor.
The cut-off for applications is December 11th, BCHS will be wrapping the gifts on the 16th and distributing on the 19th. To fill out an application, members of the community and some surrounding areas in MD of Bonnyville, can pick up forms at the Bonnyville Friendship Centre and the EmployAbilities.