The annual Helping Hampers holiday food and gift drive is underway at the Bow Valley High School.

The rich tradition of spreading joy during the holiday season will aid eight local families in need from elementary and middle schools this year. The families are provided with everything they need to make Christmas special, plus a two-month supply of food.

A community donation site has been established at St. Peter's Lutheran Church, located on the corner of George Fox Drive and Hwy. 22. It's open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and items will be accepted until Dec. 10. Church officials ask those dropping off contributions to wear masks.

Being accepted are Christmas gifts for children and parents, nonperishable food, gift cards, and toiletries. 

Kathleen McLeod is one of two teachers leading the school's leadership students. This is her second year assisting with Helping Hampers, and she's excited to help keep the tradition alive.

She says it's a cherished legacy of the Bow Valley community and was touched when past recipients stepped forward to contribute because of what it meant to their families. 

When the school's doors were closed early in last year's campaign due to the pandemic, they were able to set up a depot outside of the school. They've decided to continue that practice.

"I've been absolutely amazed at just how far-reaching it is, how excited everyone gets about it, and how it brings the community together. It's been truly awesome this past year to be able to extend it into the community and allow everyone to be a part of it."

All items donated are brought to the school, where an amazing team of student volunteers and school staff organize and assemble the hampers. They also have a team of elves who wrap the Christmas presents.

McLeod extends thanks to everyone who has contributed this year or done so in the past. She says even if you're unable to donate, helping spread the word is a big help.