Barrie Christmas Cheer Campaign

Hampers are on their way to those in need

The organized mayhem continued at the Barrie and District Christmas Cheer facility, Friday. Thousands of food items and toys have been collected and sorted, and now the heavy lifting begins: getting the food hampers, turkeys and toys out into the community to the people in need. There was a continuous line of traffic in and out of the Christmas Cheer warehouse — generously donated by PBM Reality — at St. Vincent Street and Bell Farm Road Friday afternoon, as families came to collect their hampers and volunteer drivers helped those without vehicles. OPP officers and military personnel helped with traffic control to keep cars, vans and trucks flowing and to ensure emergency vehicles could travel on St. Vincent Street if need be. Honorary Col. Peter Lorimer was in the thick of things Friday and said regardless of rank, base personnel were eager to lend a hand. There were 16 members of the Canadian Forces helping out on Friday and there will be 24 on Saturday. “They are all on Christmas leave and giving up their own time to take part,” he said, adding that the troops asked for, and received, permission to wear their uniforms because they were not on active duty. “The attraction is giving back to the community who supports them,” Lorimer said. “It’s a good outreach program for the military. We’re doing the outside work loading hampers and turkeys to keep the flow going. It’s wonderful seeing the smiles on the faces and the gratitude.” Friday’s pickups — either by clients or volunteers as well as Sinton Transportation minibuses — included food and gift card donations from Georgian Mall for kids 11 to 18 years old. The remaining pickups will conclude Saturday. As of Friday afternoon, $190,000 of the $235,00 goal had been collected. That includes a $10,000 anonymous donation, according to this year’s Christmas Cheer president Ted Blaker. As of Saturday, they are still $40,000 short of the goal. “It shows what the community is made of,” he said, of the secret Santa. “They knew what we needed but they didn’t want any recognition; they just wanted to help.” It’s never to late to direct money to the cause, Blaker added. Cash donations are still gratefully accepted at all year long, although they must be received by Dec. 31 for any income tax deductions for 2012. Monthly donations can also be arranged.

C/O Barrie Examiner - Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:13:32 EST PM