Iqaluit Xmas hamper campaign cheers the needy



IQALUIT — Almost two years after the death of Iqaluit resident and philanthropist Fred Coman, Iqaluit’s annual Christmas hamper hand-out will continue.

On Dec. 23, RCMP officers bearing 175 turkey-filled hampers will try to deliver some holiday cheer to families in need.

Inside each hamper will be 16 different items, including baking supplies, other Christmas staples, and a toy for families with small children.

Fred and Oolahnee Coman began distributing turkeys when they were first married more than 20 years ago. The deliveries eventually expanded to include everything needed for a complete Christmas dinner, Coman said.

Iqaluit’s Rotary Club is sponsoring the event for this year. Yvon Blanchette, a member of the Rotary Club, is co-ordinating this year’s distribution.

“It is important because some people really need it. It should be done every year,” Blanchette said.

But next year, Oolahnee expects she will head up the delivery again.

“I’m taking a year off. If I can get everything settled by next year, it will be Coman again. I’ve done it too long to give it up,” Coman said.

Blanchette estimates it will cost between $15,000 to $20,000 to pay for the hampers. Local businesses are being canvassed to make donations to the drive.

Supplies for the hampers have already been ordered from local retailers, Blanchette said.

A list of families in need was developed by a group of people made up of elders, Rotary Club members, and people from the housing authority. Volunteers have begun filling boxes.

Last year, one of Blanchette’s sons lent a hand delivering parcels to RCMP. He then recounted the special feeling he received seeing the smiling faces of those in need to his father.

“Maybe I’ll take time to deliver this year, just to get that feeling,” Blanchette said.

Blanchette said he expects deliveries to get underway at about 3 p.m. on Dec. 23.

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