Nothing was about to get in the way of the well-known rich tradition of giving in the Bow Valley High School community.
If anything, the generosity displayed by their students, staff, alumni, families, and businesses in creating 14 super hampers was fortified by an even greater need this Christmas.
Yesterday, the overflowing Helping Hampers were picked up by their recipients.
Teacher Scott Thompson calls them "super hampers" for a good reason. Each family received about 10 boxes of food, plus several hundred dollars in gift cards to buy fresh perishable goods. Each family member received Christmas gifts tailored to them plus a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
"We were able to help 14 families this year, all from Cochrane, many with incredible stories of struggles and adversity," explains Thompson.
"You have people who have lost their businesses, you have families where both parents lost their job, you have people who have been displaced from their homes, there are single moms, people avoiding violence, people who are in shelters. Every story is a story of Cochrane; it's a story of Alberta, and people overcoming adversity."
"I have just been absolutely blown away by the Bow Valley community as well as the greater Cochrane community, and how they jumped on board to support us," says Thompson.
Thompson praises the school's student leadership team for their key role in organizing the hamper campaign. Unfortunately, about 36 hours after the campaign was launch, students returned home for online studies.
"I must admit I was a bit nervous when we only had the 30-hours or so to launch. I thought, 'Oh, man, we're not going to be able to do what we've done in the past'."
Yet, what happens displayed just how strong a culture has been created at Bow Valley.
People contributed in so many ways. Some sponsored entire super hampers, while one family provided a significant cash donation to top up hampers. One student used their Safeway points to purchase a list of items. The school's food instructors prepared a massive baked goods hamper for one family. Another teacher used her talent to prepare 14 exquisite homemade Christmas cards for each hamper. Generous businesses provide gifts and food. Local service organizations pitched in... the list seems almost endless.
Alumni and former staff members reached out, too, bringing to life the words, "Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat."
"We've had university students getting together and sponsoring entire families and blowing off the doors in terms of the amount of gifts and food, gift cards, and such. That's been heart-warming for me."
Additionally, Thompson says some former students contributed who had received a hamper in the past and wanted to give back.
"This all confirms the values and attitude and awesome nature of community spirit here in Cochrane and it has been life-giving in the process."
Besides the hundreds of people who contributed, the school thanks the following businesses and organizations for their assistance: Hunterwood Technologies, 2 Pharmacy, Cochrane Lionesses, Cochrane Activettes, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, The Urban Butcher, Final Touch Art Studio, Bri Clarke Farmer - Justin Havre & Associates Re/Max First.