The Camrose Merry Christmas Fund – Christmas Hamper Program
People of Action - This year John Stoddart, his wife Lesley and Morris Henderson again helped out at the Camrose Merry Christmas Fund Christmas hamper assembly and distribution project.
Chuck and Lois MacLean were thinking about doing something worthwhile and meaningful for those who are in a less fortunate position at Christmas time.
About 1965, the MacLeans decided to organize and deliver Christmas hampers of food and perhaps a small toy to these families. The MacLeans owned the Camrose Canadian newspaper at that time.
Thus, the Camrose Canadian Merry Christmas Fund became a reality. In the first years the MacLeans organized the hampers and coordinated the deliveries.
It is likely that the demand increased over time and as a result the Fund became a community-based project. The Camrose Canadian continued to collect the much-needed donations and provided the advertising to make this an annual success. The MacLeans sold the Camrose Canadian, however the non-profit organization carries on today with a core group of volunteers.
The first cheque was signed by Olive Tate who we can assume was the treasurer at the time. Don Hare was the chairman for many years. Don worked for the City of Camrose in the Public Works department. The second chairman was Mike Wetsch. Taking over from him was Bernie Bosier as chairman and Dorothy Marshall as the treasurer in 1984. Bernie served in this role for 25 years and was able to hone the organization and delivery to a finely tuned machine. Dorothy continues to be the treasurer today. Larry Schultz had the pleasure to work with Bernie since 1994 and when Bernie decided it was time for someone else to take over the reins it seemed like a natural progression for Larry.  Larry has been the chairman since 2007 and he can attest to the strong organizational skills that Bernie had brought to this organization for a quarter of a century.
In 2019 Larry wanted to step back from his role as Chairman. Jason Delwo who worked with Larry on the project for about 8 years and Morris Henderson who worked for about 5 years took on roles as co-chairs, relying on Larry’s guidance.
So much for the history, now on to what do we do.
The Camrose Merry Christmas Fund works in conjunction with the Neighbor Aid Center. The Fund is an independent non-profit organization that collects money from the community and uses it to purchase large quantities of food to be packaged as Christmas Hampers.   
The Neighbor Aid Center receives names of people considered less fortunate from many sources, including social services, the churches of Camrose and many people phoning in on behalf of someone they think is in need. The Neighbor Aid Center does the screening and provides a list of names to the Chairman of the Camrose Merry Christmas Fund to organize the packing and routing for the hamper deliveries.
We also work in conjunction with the Kinette Club of Camrose who conduct a toy drive under the name of “Silent Santa”. The toys are gathered and packed by the Kinette Club members and volunteers. The Neighbor Aid Center provides the Kinette Club with the list of recipient families, noting children ages and gender so toys, books, mitts, etc. can be appropriately packaged. They are then paired with the hampers and delivered together with the food hampers.
For many years the organization packed and delivered 216 hampers 144 large hampers for families and 72 medium hampers for single person households.  This seemed to meet the identified demand and we would usually have a small number of hampers left over. These leftover hampers were taken to the Food Bank who used them to provide for those last-minute requests that did not have their name on the delivery schedule.
In 2008 the demand for hampers increased dramatically.
In 2008 we packed and delivered 286 hampers or an increase of over 30%. Sadly, it was the first year we ran a small deficit when the costs were marginally higher than the monies collected. Since that date the number of hampers has ranged from 250 to 280 each year.
Our fundraising goal for this year is $25,000 the advertising campaign id underway to promote awareness of the need. 
The groceries for the hampers were ordered at the beginning of October to take advantage of favorable pricing on product as it becomes available. We do this with faith that the community will rise to the challenge and provide the required donations to cover the cost of the groceries.
So how can you help support this worthwhile cause?
  1. consider making a cash or cheque donation at the Royal Bank or Camrose Firehall
  2. make your family and friends aware of the organization that they too might consider a donation of money or time to help with packing, deliveries. etc.
  3. Volunteer your time to assist with packing or delivering hampers. We start packing on Thursday Dec 19 and deliver on Saturday Dec 21 starting at 9:00 AM
  4. Consider promoting a donation to the Camrose Merry Christmas Fund at staff Christmas parties rather than spending money on small gifts for co-workers.
Community businesses and groups donating services or volunteers to prepare hampers this year:
  • Camrose Kinette Club Silent Santa
  • Camrose Co-op Food Store
  • Camrose Swans and Roses Lions Club
  • A-1 Rentals
  • Zetsen Master Builders
  • Wild Rose Food Distributors
  • Camrose Post Office
  • Hi-Way 9 Express
  • Fire Department, City of Camrose
  • RBC Royal Bank, Camrose
2019 Co-Chairs
Morris Henderson                               Jason Delwo
587.322.2555                                      780.679.5771      
Article from November, 2019