Naomi Zacharias is a program representative with the North Norfolk Christmas Cheer group, and they're gearing up for their Christmas Hamper drive again for this year.

"I think we've been going hard for well over 20 years now," says Zacharias. "It's essentially a community resource for people who, maybe, don't have enough to make their Christmas what they'd like it to be. It's just for people who need a little hand around the holidays. Things are expensive, groceries are expensive, and this lets people have all the necessities that they need for a good Christmas. It's to make sure each kid in their household has a gift and all the food they need."

She explains people can donate by cash or cheque, and even e-transfer to help out. Zacharias notes you could also buy gifts for little ones, books, or even hygiene items. 

"There are a few different places that they could give," continues Zacharias. "They could write a cheque made out to the North-Norfolk Christmas Cheer Board. You could drop it off at a credit union, at the CRC (Community Resource Centre), by mail at PO Box 881 in MacGregor, or you could e-transfer to" 

She notes the CRC site is located at 24 Hampton St. between the post office and the pharmacy. 

Zacharias says they've had a seamless program in the last few years due to some great community members who've been doing this for quite some time. 

"Essentially, now is the time for people who want to put in an application to do so," notes Zacharias. "You can do that by going to the CRC, or you could even call. The phone number is (204) 685-2977, and applications are available from now until December 8th."

She explains there is a timeframe and deadline of that date for applications due to the time required to curate what any given family needs, or for age-appropriate items to be collected. 

"We like to make sure that they get the hamper before, or in time for, Christmas," explains Zacharias. "When I first started, we probably did about 49 or 50 hampers, and we're into the 60s fur hampers now. I think it's just because times are tight and COVID was a really interesting year as far as putting hampers together was concerned, because we had to switch ideas."

Zacharias says restrictions in the pandemic demanded that food be not handled, along with other rules that are still in place as to how to make things safe and appropriate for everybody.

She adds a Carol Fest is taking place at the high school in MacGregor on December 3rd which also supports the Cheer Board.

"It's on a Sunday and a lot of community people come together and sing Christmas carols," says Zacharias. "Then there's a free-will offering that's taken up, and that money goes toward the Christmas Cheer Board. The Christmas Cheer Board, in turn, always donates a portion of that to our food bank in our town, as well. We just kind of work together that way."

Zacharias has been involved for the past 12 years, and smiles, noting she's had her three children in that time period.  


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