Just a note from the department of ‘For What It’s Worth’, and let me declare my interests first. 

For the past seven or eight years (don’t remember how long but I know it’s approaching ten years) I have committed myself to volunteering every Christmas for the Salvation Army.

Every December, before the annual distribution of food for families in need, I go in ahead of the volunteers who pack the individual hampers to stack stacks and stacks of non-perishable goods bound for those Christmas hampers.

This year, unlike previous years spanning decades, the Slat House, where those goods are usually stacked, is off limits to accommodate the Farmers Market, once a week on Saturdays.

As a result, the Salvation Army Christmas programme that assists thousands of families in need during the Christmas holiday has been moved to the Visitors Centre at the Botanical Gardens. 

In terms of size and capacity, this building is no where near the space required for a programme that also caters to Government Departments, like Child and Family Services and rest homes. Frankly, the room designated for the food is too small, there’s nowhere to pack hampers yet and there’s boxes lining the hall.

Despite the restricted conditions, the people who run this programme are pressing on. But there’s another issue this year.

For the first time in the last few years I’ve been doing this, there’s hardly enough to go around, especially when I looked into the room in the photograph above. There’s normally tons of toys for children from infants right up to the age of 12. As you can see the tables and shelves are damn near BARE!

Now I know there’s a host of people who donate food, clothing and toys for children for this programme. And I know there’s a lot of people running similar programmes but none of them are as big as the one run by the Salvation Army.

This year, unlike previous years and in spite of the stress caused by the cramped conditions of the Visitors Centre, they are jumping major hoops to pull it off. Only this time, they’re working with the bare minimum.

Distribution starts next week for the seniors, after the Government agencies and then for members of the public who signed up for assistance. Fortunately, there’s less this year than last year. And while I’m sure they will be grateful, I can assure you there will be a lot of children disappointed – children in families struggling to survive.

Like old folks say that’s life, and so I guess they will get over it, just like they have to get through all the other struggles they encounter in their day to day lives. But come on now, we’re talking about children!

I don’t know what the answer is, and I know like most things this too shall pass. But if it’s not too much to ask, try and dig a little deeper for the babies people. If you can donate anything, especially for boys and girls between the ages of eight and ten years of age, please do so before next Tuesday. 

Call the army’s Santa’s Anonymous Hotline on 537-6455. Whatever you can do would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for reading!