The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) is holding its annual Holiday Hamper program, which works to provide support to students in need and their families every holiday season.
This year, the program is accepting donations of new toys for children up to 14 years of age and hygiene products, as well as monetary contributions.
In-person donations can be made at the UMSU Service Centre, and online donations can be submitted through UMSU’s website under the Holiday Hamper section.
UMSU vice-president community engagement Elishia Ratel said that this year’s program offers a combination of grocery gift cards and hampers containing toys and hygiene products.
Ratel said that the gift cards give students the ability to buy items for themselves that suit their personal needs.
Last year, when UMSU was forced to alter its typical approach to the program due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it opted to include gift cards. That year, the Holiday Hamper program was able to help about 230 households.
Ratel said that the program is aiming to assist a similar number of people this holiday season, with the goal being to “raise about $30,000 and collect as many toys, hygiene products and menstrual products as we can.”
Different tiers of monetary donations are available based on how many people a hamper is providing for, with $150 for one person, $250 for two to three people, $350 for four to five people and $450 for six people or more.
Student groups and organizations have also been contributing to the Holiday Hampers. The University 1 Student Council will be hosting a Christmas Social on Dec. 23, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the hamper program. Additionally, the Nursing Students’ Association (NSA) is gathering funds from students in the program to make a group donation, and is collecting toys and hygiene products for the hampers.
Ratel noted that winters and the holiday season in Winnipeg can be difficult for many people. She said that the Holiday Hamper program is a way to remind people that “we are all here to help each other.”
UMSU is holding its own events to raise money for the hampers throughout the month, including a movie night on Dec. 1, a holiday karaoke night on Dec. 2 and photos with Santa on Dec. 5 and 6.
Naveena Thakur, the UMSU representative for the NSA, explained that both the NSA and the Graduate Nursing Students’ Association are working together to raise funds for the hamper.
The two associations are collecting both monetary and in-person donations, which can be made through the NSA website and at the nursing lounge in room 202 of the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing, respectively.
During last year’s program, the NSA gathered donations from both faculty members and students to contribute to the Holiday Hampers.
With the rise in tuition and cost of living this year, Thakur said that her association believes it is important to help students in need and their families through this holiday season.
More information on the Holiday Hamper program can be found on UMSU’s Instagram page, or on its website.