Providing Vernon’s underprivileged with Christmas gifts has been a challenge this year.
The Upper Room Mission has been urging residents to put together backpacks for clients but there have only been 27 of the 150 to 220 required gifts donated.
“We are usually inundated and overwhelmed with gifts but this year is a little slow,” said Lisa Froom, mission general manager.
The backpacks are generally split equally between men and women, but as of Tuesday, there were only 20 for women and seven for men.
Froom isn’t sure why support is down this year although she believes it may be a result of the public helping other local charities or the economic downturn impacting the ability of families to give to others.
The original Thursday deadline for donations has been extended to Dec. 21.
For many of the mission’s clients, the backpack is the only Christmas gift they will receive.
“They don’t necessarily have family connections and this is something they look forward to every year,” said Froom.
Anyone wanting to participate can start by purchasing a new or gently used backpack.
“We supply a list of suggestions people can fill the backpack with,” said Froom.
Among the items are deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, a comb, small packs of Kleenex, socks, razors, soap and a face cloth.
Other items that are popular are hand warmers, candy or gum, small hand mirrors and pens and note pads.
“Add any special little items to make it a unique gift from you,” said Froom.
Backpacks can be dropped off at the Upper Room Mission, 3403 27th Ave. no later than Dec. 21.
For more information, call 250-549-1231.
The gifts will be presented to clients Dec. 23 and Froom is hopeful the community will rally and there will be enough presents so no one feels left out.
“We want the community to know this is an opportunity to help people in the community,” said Froom.