By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
The Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society received an early Christmas present last week with a donation from the Wheatland Quilters Guild of nearly 200 handmade zipper pouches.
Twenty-five members dedicated hundreds of hours, and turned donated scrap materials into 183 festive and colourful quilted bags to be included in the hampers. In the past, the quilters donated pillowcases to the society, but decided to produce the pouches after one of the members came across a pattern a year ago.
The president of the Wheatland Quilters Guild, Amy Webb personally spent three complete days working on the projects.
“You wonder as you’re sewing them, ‘is this what they really want?’ But as you see them stuffed with things, they look festive, fun and nice,” she said. “I mean this looks like a gift to me. And I know I love to open up a box or bag and find stuff in there that’s meaningful. I just think that the kids will be excited when they get something that’s so personalized. It’s just so special. Hopefully that’s how they feel.”
Volunteers with the Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society will be filling the bags with hygiene products, lotions, make-up, jewelry, crafts and baby supplies for children up to the age of 18. In the past, these items were placed inside a plastic bag. Currently, the society’s list of children to receive the bags already stands at 40 girls and 54 boys – a number that’s expected to swell before the Dec. 15 deadline.
“I’m a quilter, I know how much work goes into this,” said Lorraine Stangness, toy coordinator for the Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society.
“It’s all scrap fabric, which has minimal cost, but it’s the hours that goes into this. I just think it’s wonderful. We would be giving them stuff in plastic bags, so this way they’re getting stuff in a nice bag.”
The Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society was formed in 1981 and received its charitable status in 1985. In the early years, volunteers stuffed 100 to 125 hampers on a weekend. Last year the society distributed 260 hampers and filled 320 bags of toys for children. While the shelves for younger children are overflowing with items, those for ages 10 to 12 are bare. Yet, volunteers recognize the campaign only kicked off three weeks ago, on Nov. 13, and expect the arrival of more donations over the coming weeks.
“We never panic, because it all works out in the end … you could put yourself in an early mental place if you start panicking about it, but it’ll come,” said Jean Buphfer, secretary for the Strathmore and Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society.
“We’re very lucky, the community is very generous. We won’t know how many we’re dealing with until Dec. 15, but we’re expecting the same as last year – 260 families – and then we just get the kids.”
The Wheatland Quilters Guild continues to create more bags to be donated this year. Meanwhile, the society is hoping for more items appropriate for the pre-teens. Specifically, the society is looking for Lego pieces, model airplanes, crafts, games and gift cards.
The deadline for donations is Dec. 15.