The Comox Valley’s Christmas Spirit Hamper program galvanizes the entire community every December.
From hockey teams, sea cadets, and school groups, to parents, coaches and retirees, hundreds of volunteers lend a hand to make sure the less fortunate in our community have reason to rejoice during the festive season.
But for one person, that program is a year-round activity.
Christmas Spirit Hamper Program co-ordinator Annette Bowden has been involved with the annual initiative for more than 25 years. While the program is front and centre in November and December, Annette’s work is perpetual. As soon as the totes are put away for one Christmas season, Annette is back on the phones, seeking support and sponsorship for the next year’s edition.
In her quarter-century-plus of work with the Christmas Spirit Hamper, Annette’s efforts have touched more Comox Valley families than could possibly be tabulated.
She spends hundreds of hours every year, organizing the volunteer crews to answer phones for the intake of the families who are in need of the hampers, overseeing of all of the paperwork and cross-checking to ensure families aren’t being doubled up in other community hamper programs, and co-ordinating with grocery stores for all of the perishable items required for the hampers… and this is only a portion of what needs to happen.
On top of that, she is constantly raising funds for the cause at her Royal Lepage office, through 50/50 draws, silent auction items and other initiatives.
Upwards of 600 Comox Valley families benefit each year from the Christmas Spirit Hamper program, and none of that would be possible without Annette Bowden doing what she does.
Annette Bowden is the 2020 Community Volunteer Local Hero.