How to help or get support this COVID Christmas

West Niagara charities are gearing up for the holidays by sharing about the urgent need for donations, and offering services to take the pressure off those in need or ravaged by COVID-19 this Christmas.

The Grimsby Benevolent Fund (GBF) is forecasting an increased need this holiday season. It said in an announcement on Grimsby.ca that many people who used to donate are now turning to the organization for help.

While it’s true that everyone has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, some households have been hit harder than others. For those in a healthy situation this year, there are a number of ways they can give by offering their time, food, goods, or funds.

The Bench News has compiled a list to showcase what local charities are doing this Christmas so those in need know where to seek help, and residents that are able to provide support can do so, as well.

Grimsby Benevolent Fund

The Grimsby Benevolent Fund, located at 40 Elm Street, Grimsby, is running its annual Christmas Hamper Program. It offers baskets of non-perishable food items to residents in need.

While donations to GBF are always accepted, the process is even easier this year by running a drive on the day of the Grimsby Santa Claus Parade.

GBF food bags will be available in the Nov. 26 edition of the News Now newspaper. Anyone who would like to donate, can fill up a bag with non-perishable foods and drop it with firefighters from the Grimsby Fire Department at Santa’s static float on Dec. 5.

Stacy Elia, Executive Director of GBF, told The Bench News in October that the organization was working to making it easier to make Christmas donations. “(We) are encouraging online donations to support our local families this holiday season,” she said.

Individuals and businesses can now donate online by visiting the GBF website. They accept donations by credit card over the phone at 905-309-5664 or cheques by mail sent to: GBF Community Services at 40 Elm Street, Grimsby, P.O. Box 231, L3M 4G3. Anyone who needs support can also call or visit GBF at anytime.

Community Cares West Niagara

Community Cares West Niagara (CCWN) is taking care of families in Lincoln with a Christmas Hamper Program and Angel Wish Program. The organization recognizes that the holiday season can be a very emotional and expensive time for everyone. So, these two programs are designed to support by making food accessible and gifts for kids possible.

The Christmas Hamper Program offers residents baskets filled with perishable and non-perishable foods, grocery store giftcards, and personal care items or giftcards to purchase them.

The Angel Wish Program was originally initiated by the Beamsville Lionesses. It allows residents to grant Christmas wishes for children in West Niagara who are registered with CCWN. Last year, the Lincoln community provided 180 angel wishes during the Christmas season.

For all the information on the Christmas Hamper Program or Angel Wish Program visit Community Cares West Niagara or call (905) 563-5822.

West Lincoln Community Care

Christmas hampers are available to residents in West Lincoln from West Lincoln Community Care (WLCC). They are filled with food items, including all the items for a holiday meal, clothing and gifts. 

West Lincoln residents who would like to be a Community Christmas Elf this season can sponsor a family by providing all the items for their Christmas hamper.

Christmas hampers will be offered from Dec. 7 to 11.  Sharlene Volpatti, Client Services & Food Bank Manager for WLCC, encourages anyone who needs support this year to reach out. “If you have found yourself in a tough situation call…we are happy to help,” said Volpatti.

To donate or inquire about the food hampers offered by WLCC call 905-957-5882 or email WLCC at wlcc@bellnet.ca.

Pelham Cares

Pelham Cares is currently running a massive food drive. While it usually runs a one-day event, this year it launched a “15 days to fill our shelves” campaign to give more time because of COVID-19. The initiative started on Nov. 5 and will continue until Dec. 5.

A contactless drop off service is also being offered this year as a result of the pandemic. To keep everyone safe, masks are worn by volunteers during exchanges of goods. As well, donations are being accepted this year at the Meridian Community Centre, located at 100 Meridian Way, Fonthill, on Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30-7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The annual food drive gives Pelham Cares about seven months of food inventory each year that it provides to local families. Over 3,000 boxes of food are delivered annually. Any family can arrange to have a holiday food hamper by registering with the organization.

Following the food drive, Pelham Cares will move into collecting items and compiling its Christmas holiday hampers said Jennifer Dubé, the Coordinator of Client Services for Pelham Cares. “We’ll do a toy drive, and collect pajamas, hats and mitts,” said Dubé. “We’ll be partnering with our local fire department to organize the toy drive.”

Monetary donations are also accepted. For more information on how to get involved or to find out how to recieve support visit Pelham Cares or call 905-892-5300.

Food Fed Forward

West Niagara residents can pick up complimentary bags of farm fresh produce provided by the Food Fed Forward program, which is operated by Small Scale Farms. The organization works with a network of local farmers to source the food.

While anyone can also buy local produce, meats, and baked goods from Small Scale Farms, the company recognized that not everyone can afford to purchase healthy food, especially in 2020 with the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it created the Food Fed Forward program to solve this problem.

The company funds its free food program by selling produce boxes in the communities it serves. For each box sold, it donates one bag of produce to the community where the purchase was made. So, anyone can join the Small Scale Farms subscription service to receive a box of farm fresh produce to their door and also make a difference because one more bag goes right back into their community.

Each week, affiliate hubs receive bags of produce that anyone can pick up for free, no questions asked. The current hubs are:

  • White Rhino Gifts, located at 7 Main St E in Grimsby
  • TRUTH Niagara, located at 3 E Main St. in Welland
  • The Soup Kitchen of Niagara Falls Community Outreach, located at 4865 St. Lawrence Ave, Niagara Falls
  • Reach Out Niagara Family Support Services, located at 126 Niagara St. in St. Catharines
  • Niagara Dream Centre, located at 60 Facer St. in St. Catharines

Any person or organization can get involved with Food Fed Forward. Email crew@smallscalefarms.ca for more information. To purchase local food and other products from Small Scale Farms or inquire about the Farm Fed Forward initiative and pick-up locations visit SmallScaleFarms.ca.