WEST CARLETON – While almost everything else has been cancelled this year, the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC) will still run its food basket and Angel Tree programs and needs your help.

But it will look different.

“The WCFAC will once again be organizing the annual Christmas Basket Program to help our neighbours and friends who need assistance at Christmas time,” WCFAC chair Mary Braun told West Carleton Online last Thursday (Oct.  15) from the food bank located at the West Carleton Community Complex. “All of us at times find it difficult to make ends meet and Christmas time can be especially difficult. However, if we all work together, we can ensure that everyone can have a joyous Christmas celebration.”

The WCFAC itself looks a little different these days. Volunteers have instituted new policies appropriate for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clients are no longer allowed in the food back, and the front door is locked. But they have installed a new, very noticeable doorbell and have a marker on the ground to keep everyone at a safe distance.

“For eight months that duct tape has lasted on the ground,” Braun said. “The doorbell is loud and long. It’s been going smoothly. We’re still good for volunteers.”

The system for ordering a WCFAC Christmas Basket remains the same.

If you find that you would like extra help this Christmas, and are a resident of West Carleton please contact the WCFAC in strictest confidence at 613-832-5685. Leave a message with your name and contact number and a volunteer will return your call to make the necessary arrangements with you.

The deadline for requests is Dec. 15. 

“Please note that, because of COVID-19, we will not be able to deliver the packages to your residence,” Braun said. “Packages must be picked up at the WCFAC site (5670 Carp Rd).  You will receive further instructions when you place an order.”

Also, due to COVID-19, volunteers are looking for monetary donations this year as they can’t except private donations of food.

“Due to the COVID -19 Pandemic the Christmas Program will take on a different format,” Braun said. “Therefore, monetary donations would be greatly appreciated.  All eligible donations will receive a tax receipt (over $20).”

What will be noticeably different this year is the WCFAC Angel Tree Program.

“We’re not putting trees out this year,” board member Sharon Roper said. “For the safety of our volunteers and clients.”

In the past WCFAC volunteers put Christmas trees out at West Carleton schools and businesses. Trees have angels on them with the age of a boy or girl in need of a gift, and participants take an angel and buy an appropriate gift. Obviously, COVID-19 does not make that a viable option.

“It hurts to not have the visual of the trees but it’s just not safe,” Roper said. “Especially at the schools with all the contact. We’re just asking for gift certificates for any stores that would have toys or cash donations.

You can make a cheque payable to West Carleton Food Access Centre or an e-transfer, with the memo stating Christmas Program. Mail to: West Carleton Food Access Centre, 5670 Carp Rd., Kinburn, ON, K0A 2H0 or E- transfer: WCfoodaid@gmail.com  be sure to include your mailing address.

“We’re here to help people who are in need,” Braun said. “All donations to the WCFAC stay in West Carleton.”