Coming down to the crunch for Christmas donations

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The Christmas for Everyone Luncheon was again a success. Tuesday’s lunch at the Petrolia Legion brought in $2,250 of donations for the Christmas toy and food hamper program. Here Mary Edgar waits for a friend of the Petrolia Rotary to serve up her soup.


Sandra Hartman is beginning to get nervous.

The manager of the Petrolia Food Bank has been collecting applications for Christmas for Everyone and says the number of people needed help is still high. But donations, especially for toys, are lagging behind.

Last year, about 425 food hampers were given to low-income families and officials expect this year the need will be great since food bank use is up.

Hartman has been accepting applications for the hampers for a couple of weeks and is expecting a surge this week. “The food bank’s clientele is more and more the elderly in our communities,” says Hartman. She’s urging people in the community to make sure the elderly they know who may need extra help to make their way to the food bank for help. “The help is there and I’d like them to be able to utilize it.”

And while she’s hoping to help as many people as possible, she is “shocked” at the pace of donations. Food donations are slow and so far only about one-third of the toys have been donated.

“It may be because of the weather and the economy,” she says, noting people may not be in the Christmas spirit yet. “We’ve had a few donators who are now clients; you know times are tough when your donators are now your clients.”

Hartman is hopeful donations will pick up. There are already signs of it. The 13 employees at Gamble Insurance, including three from Petrolia, are in the middle of a fundraising drive. Last year, they challenged each other to raise enough donations to fill a pickup. They’re expecting to collect 2,000 cans this year.

And The Bargain Shop is holding a toy drive with proceeds going to Christmas for Everyone.

The program also got a boost Tuesday from the Petrolia Rotary Club’s annual Christmas for Everyone Luncheon.

The food baskets and toys will begin to be distributed in the third week of December.