A hamper for a better holiday

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union is boosting the holiday spirit on campus through the annual Holiday Hamper program.

The program, coordinated by UMSU since 2004, is aimed at supporting U of M students in need by providing them with a food hamper over the holiday season, as well as providing toys for students who have children 14 years or younger.
“UMSU is involved in this program as we recognize that the holiday season can be tough for a student who has a tight budget, and therefore we would like to provide support through the provision of a holiday hamper,” said Camilla Tapp, UMSU president.

In order for the program to succeed each year, UMSU relies on donations and volunteer participation. It also organizes the requirements for the hampers and then seeks groups or individuals to adopt a hamper. Adopt-a-hamper is an initiative that encourages groups to share the responsibility of making and delivering a holiday hamper.

“We provide them with a grocery list of things that need to be included and then the address of the recipient, and they are responsible to assemble all the parts and deliver the hamper,” said Tapp.

Tapp said the project has been a success because each group works together to assemble a hamper and then shares in the holiday joy to help deliver it.

UMSU’s mission is to organize, fill and then distribute each of the hampers to students in need to reduce the stress that can surround the holiday season.
“Any donation is more than welcome,” said Tapp. “May it be the change in your pocket, your time, an unwrapped toy or even a larger monetary contribution, we need all the help that we can get.”

The typical hamper usually has a value of around $50 to $100. Several members of the Board of the Governors have already donated to the program, and David Barnard, U of M president, has said he will help the program by giving a $50 contribution for every Board of the Governors member who donates $50.

Nour Rashid, UMSU vice-president (advocacy), said UMSU is thankful for all the support the program is getting from other students, faculty, staff and administration at the University of Manitoba.

UMSU is looking for both staff and students to get involved by volunteering to wrap toys and pack the hampers from Dec. 12-14 and also for delivering them on Dec. 15.

Tapp said this is a very simple program, but one that helps more than 180 students and requires a lot of support from the campus community.

Marie Pierre, an international student at the U of M, said she decided to volunteer for the program after she heard about it through a friend.

“For me it is important to help people in need by being volunteer. The Christmas period is the time to help the others.”

According to Rashid, volunteer “elves” from the Praxis program, with help of UMSU and other student volunteers, will be handing out candy canes and hot chocolate in exchange for monetary donations.

“We will also be collecting donations in University Centre and across campus prior to the last day of class through the elves program,” said Rashid.

Those who are interested in donating or volunteering can go to the UMSU offices, 101 University Centre, or contact Nour Rashid at vpa@umsu.ca.