Dozens of volunteers gathered at the Wilmot Community Centre Sunday to arrange and distribute food boxes and toys to families throughout the Summerside area.
“This is the Summerside Kin Family Christmas Appeal,” said appeal co-chair Ray McCourt. “This is the 63rd year this project has been done.”
Co-chair Eric Ferrish said each box contains enough food to last a family two weeks.
“And they are also loading (vehicles) outside here with turkeys, cheese, milk, potatoes and bread. There’s everything you need to keep well through to the New Year.”
Ferrish said a lot of the items come through donations by local companies, organizations and individuals.
“The good will is just unreal,” he added.
Families apply for assistance through the Salvation Army and the boxes are delivered right to their front door.
“All of the new toys are wrapped for the age appropriate, whether male or female, and they’re all purchased. They’re brand new toys and all wrapped by volunteers,” McCourt said. “It’s a project that takes approximately two months to prepare for.”
Summerside Reserve members were on hand to help load and deliver the food boxes.
“We also have a lot of community volunteers,” McCourt said. “We have people who have donated their vans for use for deliveries. The turkeys we get from the CBC Turkey Drive. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank the business people and also to thank the people who have made the pledge on Dec. 3, which was our Eastlink TV appeal.”
McCourt said items purchased by the Kinsmen totals about $10,000.
“If you take into consideration all of the stuff that’s donated, whether it’s the potatoes, all of the turkeys, you could say this is in excess of $25,000 if you had to buy all of the products. It’s a fairly significant project.”
Third co-chair Sue Gallant said the project is truly a community-wide effort.
“We had Generation XX come out,” said Gallant. “We had the Summerside Bantam AA hockey team come out. We had lots of wrappers. The list goes on and on. We have lots of drivers today, people helping up. It’s amazing.”
Gallant said the project requires a lot of volunteer hours but the results are well worth the investment.
“Just to see the smile on people’s faces,” she added. “Children are really excited when they see you coming. It’s pretty overwhelming, is what it is. We couldn’t do this without the community. We might live in a small little community but I’ll tell you they’ve got the biggest hearts of anybody I’ve ever known.”
Gallant said local schools have helped out by collecting food and area seniors have knitted items to be given away.
“It’s remarkable. It’s overwhelming.”