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Christmas help is coming for families in need

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It’s a rewarding job being Santa’s Helper – just ask Kiran Pal.

Last year Pal, the Santa’s Helpers co-ordinator for the Whistler Community Services Society, dropped off Christmas hampers stuffed with goodies to families in Whistler.

Some families were at home and thanked her profusely when she handed over the hampers.

But other families were out when she came knocking on the door. And so Pal left the hampers at the back door and just sneaked away.

"And that was almost just as much fun because I knew that they’d come home and all of a sudden there would be this hamper there," said Pal.

"So both ways were pretty rewarding.

"I know the families are very thankful." It’s that time of year again – Christmas lights are up in the village, Christmas commercials are on TV and the WCSS is calling for applicants for their annual Christmas hamper program.

Every year the program helps between 20 and 25 families through the holiday season. The process is entirely confidential.

"I think that might be one of the reasons why people might be hesitant to call because of confidentiality issues," said Pal.

"(But) only the executive director and the board members work with me to organize and deliver the hampers so it’s all in house."

She wants to encourage any family who needs a little extra help this holiday season to call as soon as possible.

"What I would like is for families to feel comfortable applying for hampers and any family who feels that they could use a little help is welcome to apply," said Pal.

The hampers are geared for families with children.

Every year individuals and organizations sponsor a family by putting together a Christmas hamper. Though they know the age and sex of the kids they are helping, they do not know any names.

The hampers usually include Christmas presents for the kids as well as non-perishable food items and gift certificates for perishable food items.

The general rule of thumb is that sponsors should spend $180 for a small family hamper and $230 for a large family hamper.

The program has been running successfully for the past decade in Whistler and this year Pal would like to try a few new ideas.

For example if there are more sponsors than families, she may suggest that two sponsors join together and include a Canada Savings Bond for the children, or another long-term gift.

"And I think this year I’d like to see a few more gifts geared toward family activities like movie passes or bus tickets to the city – things that they can do together," said Pal.

The sponsors then drop off the hampers to the WCSS, where Pal will finish wrapping presents and putting the names on the gifts.

WCSS is looking for space this year to organize the hampers. They need space on a ground floor during the week of Dec. 15-20.

Anyone who can help out should call the WCSS at 604-932-0113.

Also any families who need help this Christmas should call the same number with contact information, delivery instructions and wish lists for their children under 18. The deadline to apply is Thursday, Nov. 27.

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