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New West charity project aims to spread a little love in a time of COVID

Former city councillor Lorrie Williams understands the impact of kindness at Christmas
Lorrie Williams
Lorrie Williams is spearheading a "reverse Advent calendar" that encourages people to buy an item a day and put it in a box - with boxes donated to families in need. The non-perishables will be collected on Christmas Eve day at Greens and Beans deli - with donors being given a cranberry scone and hot chocolate. Photo: Jennifer Gauthier

Lorrie Williams is hoping to pay it forward and help spread a little love in a time of COVID.

The retired city councilor is spearheading a “reverse Advent calendar” initiative that’s encouraging folks to place a food item a day in a box, with the food hampers helping local folks in need. After reading about the idea online, she decided to get something going in New West.

Williams knows from personal experience what it’s like to be struggling at Christmastime.

“When I was a teenager, we had to have a Christmas hamper. My stepfather left. We didn’t have much money. When he left there was no income,” she recalls. “At first when they delivered the box, I turned it down – you know how proud teenagers are. Mom came home and said, ‘Where is the box?’ She retrieved it.”

The list of items for the boxes includes a box of cereal, peanut butter, a stuffing mix, boxed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, a dessert mix, a jar of applesauce, a box of crackers, a package of rice, a package of oatmeal, a package of pasta, spaghetti sauce, chicken noodle soup and tomato soup. It also includes a can each of corn, mixed vegetables, carrots, green beans, fruit, tomatoes, tuna, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and beans.

People who participate in the initiative will drop off their boxes at Greens and Beans Deli in Sapperton (143 East Columbia St.) on the morning of Dec. 24 – at which time they will receive a hot chocolate and a cranberry scone.

Williams is decorating her box in a festive way so “it looks more like a gift than a handout.”

Williams said items collected will be donated to the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families, Monarch Place transition house for women and children fleeing domestic violence and the food bank. She hopes the items will help folks in the period after Christmas when the turkey has been eaten and the gifts have been opened, but people still need to eat.

Williams estimates it will cost about $50 to buy all the items in the box. (She spent $45 but had to add carrots and sweet potatoes later.)

“You are supposed to put one item in the box every day. I took the list to the grocery store and did it all in one day,” Williams laughed. “It’s all basics.”

Williams spoke to the manager of the Save-On-Foods in Sapperton, which has the list – as well as a list of the aisles where the items can be found.

Because no pre-registration is required, Williams has no idea how many people will get on board with the initiative – but she’s hoping for as many as possible.

“I am hoping it will be a nice response. New West is incredible that way,” she says. “I think our size helps. We feel like a village, a big village, but a village nonetheless.”