By: Matt Preprost
The atmosphere of the Beautiful Savior Lutheran School gymnasium was energetic and enthusiastic Wednesday afternoon as students packaged a school-record of 129 food and gift hampers for the Christmas Cheer Board.
The school’s annual Christmas food drive, now in its 10th year, grew so big that it had to be moved from the affiliated church and into the school’s gymnasium, which resembled the food-lined aisles of a supermarket. Last year, the school made 35 hampers.
Principal Jennifer McCrea said the Norwood Flats school put out word in early October that it was looking for donations. The community responded generously, raising $31,000 for the food drive. That money was used to purchase 497 cases of groceries including 130 turkeys, 12 chickens and 280 loaves of bread. Other items included potatoes, gravy mixes, stuffing, canned fruits and vegetables and even holiday treats, which were then packaged for the needs of specific families.
McCrea said the students were eager to help out, even if it meant working through their lunch hour.
“The kids want to help, but sometimes they don’t know how,” McCrea explained of the 114 nursery to Grade 8 students involved.
Some students even pitched in their own money, buying personalized gifts for the families they are supporting. One eight-year-old studentfrom BSLS said she bought a beauty kit for another eight-year-old girl.
“Some people just don’t have the money to have nice things like other people,” one student explained. “I think it’s sad that some people have to spend Christmas differently because of that.”
Other students even pooled their money together, like Grade 7 students Mary and Stacey who bought gifts for a 15-year-old boy. Mary bought a $20 gift certificate to Chapters while Stacey bought an Axe body care package.
“We were trying to get something that was educational but still fun,” Mary said.
And while some bought gifts, another student bought food to help fill the hampers. Nine-year-old Taz spent his money on items such as canned soup.
“If one person doesn’t have a good Christmas than it’s not a good Christmas,” Taz said. “We should care about others like how we want to be cared about.”
One major donor that helped the school break its record was DMT Development Systems Group Inc., which has been raising money for the school’s Christmas food drive for the past five years. This year the company raised $26,000.
“Our employees are multidenominational so not everyone celebrates Christmas, but they do respond to humanitarian issues,” president Glen Demetrioff said.
The 129 hampers will go a long way in supporting the estimated 19,000 distributed by the Christmas Cheer Board.
“This is typical of what you see in Winnipeg,” executive director Kai Madsen explained.
“You have the young and the old, the rich and the poor, coming together to help those who need it.”