Churches rally to provide a Merry Christmas
AMHERST - No family should go hungry at Christmas. It has been the philosophy of the Christmas Cheer program since the beginning and it's just as strong today as it ever was.
Members of several Amherst and area churches have come together again this year to collect food for the annual Christmas cheer boxes that will be going out to needy families on Friday.
"It's a great example of church communities working together to help those in need at Christmas," Rev. Charlotte Ross of Christ Church said. "When it was established it was done to make sure that no one goes without at Christmas and the Christmas Cheer program makes sure there is food on the table for Christmas Day."
For several weeks now, participating churches have been collecting non-perishable food items to be put in the cheer boxes. Feed Nova Scotia is providing fruit and vegetables for the boxes while every box will also include a turkey or a ham.
Other companies have come on board in recent years with additional donations including Weston Foods, which provides 500 loaves of bread, and Maritime Pride Eggs, which provided 450 dozen eggs.
The Salavation Army is providing margarine while Highland Smart Cart has procured the hams. M&S Foodservices is storing the turkeys until needed.
While the focus is on Christmas Day itself, Ross said there is usually enough food to last the week including cereal, soups and other foodstuffs.
Ross said the number of families served by the program is down quite a bit this year from the normal 400 boxes to around 340. She figures it could be a result of the town's recent economic upswing.
"Normally we send out between 388 and 425 cheer boxes, this year it's down significantly," she said.
Ross said it's important for everyone involved in the program to realize how big a community effort it is and she pointed out that in a lot of cases people making donations to the program are those who could benefit from it.
"We have people making a lot of sacrifices to support this program when their cubbards are nearly bare," she said.