(L-R) Joan Burdeniuk

Rotary Club takes on Christmas Food & Toy Drive

Like a bit of an early Christmas miracle, in the nick of time, someone has come to the rescue.

Like a bit of an early Christmas miracle, in the nick of time, someone has come to the rescue.

The Fort St. James Food and Toy Drive was teetering on the brink of not running to it’s full capacity this year, because long-time coordinators Treena Beachamp and Vince Prince have relocated for the time being to Prince George.

After trying for months to find someone willing to take on the daunting task, the clock was ticking because sponsor letters and order deadlines were fast approaching.

But thanks to the newly re-formed Fort St. James Rotary Club, the show will go on and turkeys will be roasting in the ovens of families in need this Christmas.

The idea was brought to the club by Jasmine Kendall, the new club president.

About a month ago, Kendall was considering the idea and asked the group what they thought, suggesting it would be a great way to kick off the re-formed club’s community service work.

Rotary International is an organization made up of Rotary Clubs around the world. The organization aims to bring together professional leaders in communities to help provide humanitarian service.

“That’s why we thought this project would be good,” explained Kendall.

While it took awhile to get in touch and get the information they needed from the previous directors, given everyone’s busy schedules, the group is already setting up dates and organizing plans to get the drive back on its feet.

They were given the forms, timelines and donation letters Beauchamp and Prince had worked to develop over their years as coordinators, and are putting them into action.

They will be working with Jen Bridgeman at the high school as well, as the student participation has been a major contributor in the past drives.

They are also coordinating with Nak’azdli to schedule the drop off and pick up days for hampers.

“We’re not looking at any kind of radical changes right now,” said Joan Burdeniuk, Rotary Club member.

Instead, the group is going to have to hit the ground running and is trying to locate the decorated food hamper boxes to get the donation boxes out in the community as soon as possible.

While the timing is difficult this year because Christmas falls on a weekend, the group is planning on having everything collected by the week of December 12 and to have hampers ready for delivery and pick up later the same week.

“At the point we’re coming in now, there’s no way we can do it earlier,” said Burdeniuk.

Integris Credit Union has already done some fundraising and raised $1,000 in donations from the community. Integris will also be putting forward a corporate donation of $500 and Nak’azdli has donated $1,000 as well.

Integris is challenging other businesses and corporate sponsors to meet or beat their donation.

The local Rotary Club is hoping anyone with previous experience with the Food and Toy Drive will also be willing to help them out, sorting out some of the finer details along the way.

While the Rotary Club is newly re-formed, a local Rotary Club existed for over a decade here in the Fort until about a year ago.

At that time, the club was dissolved but there still remained some interest in getting the club back up and going.

Kendall was a part of the club before, and in 2009 she travelled to Nigeria in Africa to help administer oral polio vaccines while volunteering with Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign. She went on the trip with the support of the community and the local Rotary Club and said it was a rewarding experience.

“It does make a huge difference, that was pretty neat,” said Kendall.

While the group’s first project is a major undertaking, she said she has been receiving positive feedback from the community about how happy people are the group will be doing the drive.

“I’m just really glad Rotary wanted to take this on,” she said.

Anyone interested in helping, donating or providing guidance can contact Jasmine Kendall at: 996-4446.