The Dawson Food Bank and the Dawson Women’s Shelter are busy organizing their annual Holiday Hamper Program and Food Drive. It’s designed to assist individuals and families in the community who might need a little boost to get them through the Christmas season.

Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off at either the General Store, Bonanza Market or the Robert Service School, where bins have been set aside to collect donations.

Donations of toys can be dropped off at the CIBC branch on 2nd Avenue.

Volunteers will gather at the Dawson Community Chapel on 5th Avenue on December 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sort the goods for Holiday Hamper delivery.

This is one of the ways in which Dawsonites look after each other.

For the last three years the bulk of the food bank program has been handled from the Community Chapel, after operating out of the Women’s Shelter for decades.

Over time, the shelter became uncomfortable with offering the service to both men and women and the church stepped up to take it over.

The busiest time of year for the service is in the summer, when there are many transients passing through, as well as people looking for work. Food bank volunteers John Lodder and Chad Schellenberg say 50 people would not have been an unusual day last summer, which was a busier summer than normal.

The clientele varies with the season. Once the summer folks have moved on the faces are more likely to be locals who need a bit of help.

This particular day in November they saw about 30 people, which was unusual, as 10 to 15 had been the norm for several weeks prior.

The service is provided only on Tuesday afternoons from noon to 3 o’clock. Food is provided for the service by donations from the community – from individuals as well as from the stores. People also donate cash, and this is used to buy sale items at either of the grocery stores in town.

“We’re always looking for deals and sales,” Lodder says.

A good deal of the stock in the locked storage room comes in at the end of the mining, exploration and filming seasons, when company camps have leftover food that they drop off at the food bank. Several hotels also donate food items at the ends of their seasons.

“We’ve had donations from the General Store, Bonanza Market, the Westmark (Inn), the Triple J (Hotel), RAW TV, GroundTruth Exploration and the Dawson City River Hostel across the river,” Lodder says.

An average week at the food bank would see between 20 and 30 people – some individuals, some families. It’s an important service that is provided to the community year round.