By Jessica Messerer-Trosin

Christmas is known as a time of giving.

At the Kamloops Food Bank that is especially true as the facility expects to distribute about 500 hampers to needy individuals in the community this holiday season.

“We know what number to aim for and we won’t ever run out,” said Wes Graham, operations manager at the Kamloops Food Bank.

Special hampers are made three times per yer — for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“If you need it, get in line — it’s a busy day — and we’ll have enough for everybody,” said Graham.

Planning for the Christmas hampers starts early — usually six to eight weeks before they are given out.

Inventory has to be checked, space has to be made for frozen products, and the staff has to be made aware that they should start sorting out Christmas hamper goods, like cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and canned fruit.

As it gets closer to  the distribution days, which are usually about a week before Christmas, inventory is checked again and orders are put in at local grocery for missing items like hams and turkeys.

Many of these extra items are paid for by monetary donations made by local charities.

When it comes to actually giving out the hampers, Graham said the whole building has a great atmosphere.

“The clients are in a fantastic mood because they know it’s Christmas time, it’s Christmas hampers. The volunteers are happy. It just creates a real positive energy in the building that day.”

There are usually between 30 and 40 volunteers working those two days with 10 or 12 putting together the hampers in a sort of assembly line.

Graham said that almost all those receiving the hampers are regulars at the Kamloops Food Bank.

“It’s not a problem or issue that we find people who generally don’t access the service, or don’t need the service, come and use it.”

Graham said the public can help by volunteering or dropping off non-perishable  items in the collection boxes in grocery stores.

Perishable items like potatoes or onions or carrots are also need and can be dropped off at the Food Bank located at 171 Wilson St.

“There are individuals and families and children who actually struggle with meeting their food, diet and grocery needs,” said Graham. “Every day is a little bit of a struggle. It’s nice to be able to  open up and have people come in and be able to support our community’s most needy.”