An army of volunteers with the West Island Mission distributed 300 Christmas baskets to families in need Saturday. It’s the 15th consecutive year the group has organized a food drive.
Boxes packed with canned goods and a produce bag filled with milk, bread, bananas, oranges and a turkey were delivered to homes in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Pointe-Claire, Kirkland, Beaconsfield and Île-Bizard.
About 60 percent of the baskets were given to newly-arrived immigrant families.
« There has been a large group of refugees that have come to Montreal in the last few years. Many have settled in the West Island. There’s so much they need to do before they can land that first job. They have to learn French and for some of them, it takes time to adjust to the cold weather. It’s a difficult period for a lot of them, » explains Wendy Gariépy, director of the West Island Mission.
It operates out of a warehouse in Pointe-Claire and provides monthly food assistance to about 200 families. During the holidays, the Mission gives a little extra cheer.
« We rely on the generosity of many people during this time of the year. About 300 volunteers turned out for the Christmas Basket drive. They’re wonderful, » says Gariépy.
People receiving baskets registered with the organization several weeks ago. Each basket has a value of about $100.
This holiday period has been a good one for the West Island Mission. The not-for-profit group has received food items and cash donations to fill its requirements until May, but Gariépy is urging Montrealers to keep giving.
« All food banks need help year round. We hope the same holiday cheer is around in the spring, » Gariépy adds.