Local residents will have a number of opportunities this month to volunteer and help Community Centre 55’s annual Share a Christmas campaign.
This is the 38th year for the campaign which helps more than 1,000 East Toronto residents in need over the holiday season.
Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of tasks in the coming days including packing and sorting donations, putting hampers together and collecting and distributing donations. Much of the volunteer work will be based out of Community Centre 55 at 97 Main St.
“As you can imagine, this program takes an army of volunteers to ensure its success,” said Jade Maitland, Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator for Community Centre 55 in a release.
The campaign provides food, clothing, toys, basic essentials and other items that help families enjoy the holidays. The hampers delivered to those who the campaign helps contain enough food not just for Christmas but to also carry the recipients through into the New Year.
The sorting of donations and packing of the hampers requires a huge volunteer effort, and it simply could not get done without the help of community members.
Packing and sorting dates for this year’s campaign are Dec. 18, 19 and 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for non-perishable items.
All ages are welcome to come out to Community Centre 55 on those days to help out. Many local families make it a tradition to volunteer to help with Share a Christmas every year.
Those volunteering for the packing and sorting sessions at Community Centre 55 are advised to dress in layers as the building’s temperature can fluctuate. “Bring your muscles as the food boxes can get heavy,” Community Centre 55 advises volunteers in its flyer. “Bring your patience as lots of elves come to help.”
On Saturday, Dec. 21, volunteers are needed from 10 a.m. to noon to help pack and sort toy donations. This volunteer session is for adults only, and those attending are asked not to bring children.
Volunteers will be needed for most of the day on Sunday, Dec. 22. In the morning, from 9 to 11 a.m., the trucks with perishable food will need to be unloaded and the items added to the hampers.
From noon until the job is finished, volunteers will also be needed on Dec. 22 to deliver the hampers to the families that are receiving them.
Along with the work of getting the hampers together and then delivering them, volunteers are also needed to help collect donations. This coming Saturday, Dec. 14, Community Centre 55 is looking for volunteers to help out at a Food Drive at Dyson’s Valu-Mart on Queen Street East in the Beach from noon to 4 p.m.
Residents who are not able to give their time volunteering are reminded that they can help support Share a Christmas by donating food, toys, items for pets, or money to the cause.
Most needed non-perishable food items include canned meat and fish, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, rice, soups, stews, jam, macaroni and cheese and juice.
Donations of new toys for all ages are welcomed, but most needed are items for teenagers. Community Centre 55 suggests donations of gift cards, electronics, beauty supplies and sports equipment for the teens.
Donations of money to help the Share a Christmas campaign buy needed items are always welcome. The campaign accepts donations by cash, cheque and credit card. All monetary donations are eligible for a tax receipt.
As well, Share a Christmas needs donations to help pets as they also need to eat over the holidays. Most needed are dog and cat food donations, either in cans or bags.
For more information on volunteering, please contact Maitland at 416-691-1113, ext. 224 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone wishing to donate non-perishable food items, new unwrapped toys or money to Share a Christmas is asked to contact Community Centre 55 at 416-691-1113 or visit www.centre55.com