Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Christmas Bureau?

Each year local Waterloo Region non-profits, service clubs and faith groups come together as the Christmas Bureau and coordinate services to help local families and individuals with food and gifts.

The Christmas Bureau consists of:

  • House of Friendship
  • The Kitchener-Waterloo Salvation Army
  • The Cambridge Salvation Army
  • The Cambridge Self Help food bank
  • The Cambridge Firefighters
  • Woolwich Community Services
  • Wilmot Community Services
  • The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
  • Food Bank of Waterloo Region

The Christmas Bureau is coordinated by House of Friendship to provide a central registration system for people in Waterloo Region to access support for the Christmas Season.

In Kitchener-Waterloo the Salvation Army provides gifts for children aged 15 years or younger and food is provided by House of Friendship.

In Cambridge, the Salvation Army provides gifts for children aged 16 or younger and food is provided by the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank and the Cambridge Firefighters.

In Wilmot (and the Southern part of Wellesley), the Wilmot Family Resource Centre provides gifts for children 17 years old and under and a grocery gift card for one holiday meal. The Woolwich Community Services assists in the Elmira and St. Jacobs’s area.

Community Centre Pick Up Times:

  • Kingsdale Community Centre (Dec 8) 10:00 am -12:00 pm
  • Victoria Hills Community Centre (Dec 13) 1:30pm – 3:30 pm
  • Courtland Shelley Community Centre (Dec 14) 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
  • Forest Height Community Centre (Dec 14) 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Centreville Chicopee Community Centre (Dec 15) 1:45 pm -3:30 pm
  • Sunnydale Community Centre (Dec 16) 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
  • Chandler Mowat Community Centre (Dec16) 1:20 pm – 3:30 pm

 

Registration

I forgot where my pick up appointment is, how can I find out? 

Everyone will get a reminder notification on December 6th around noon. 

If you requested to get delivery in Cambridge and your notification still says pick up, do not worry as long as the Food Bank has contacted you and confirmed you are good to go. 

How to Register in Kitchener – Waterloo and Cambridge

Households will be able to register online starting November 1 at www.christmashampers.ca.

Registration will close November 30th at noon. If you need support and missed the deadline, please call the Christmas Bureau team.

When you register, you will receive more information about how you will receive the support you request.

 Staff and volunteers are available 9:00 am – 4:00 pm to help assist with registrations Monday – Friday. 

How to Register in Wilmot

Families and individuals can begin registration October 15th. To register, families are encouraged to visit https://wilmotfamilyresourcecentre.wordpress.com/programs-services/christmas-hampers/ or call their main office at 519-662-2731. They have a soft deadline of November 30. All hampers in Wilmot/Wellesley will be delivered to recipient homes in mid-December.

How to Register in Woolwich

Families and individuals can apply after Nov 2 by calling 519-669-5139 Monday to Friday 9-5pm.  They will need proof of residence, proof of income and a piece of identification for all of the people in the household. Options to provide proof will be discussed. They ask that people try to apply before November 30th.

Hamper Distribution for Kitchener-Waterloo residents

For Kitchener-Waterloo in 2021 the Christmas Hamper will consist of a frozen turkey (halal and vegetarian available) and a gift card. The value of the gift card depends on the size of the family.

House of Friendship will distribute turkeys and gift cards through three channels:

  1. Delivery
  2. Centralized pick up locations
  3. Neighbourhood Food Program Pick Up

Delivery: Deliveries of the gift card and turkey are available for those who do not have a car or who will find it challenging to pick up at a neighbourhood location. Most deliveries will happen on Saturday, Dec 11 and Sunday, Dec 12 between 9:00am and 2:00pm. A confirmation email will be sent once registration has been completed and received.

Centralized pick up locations: Pickup locations will allow participants to pick up their turkey and gift card in a convenient location. These pickups are available by appointment and are available on:

  • Thursday, December 9th, Friday, December 10th , Monday December 13th, Wednesday December 15th, or Friday, December 17th

When you register you will choose the location, date and time that works best for you.

*New for 2021* Weekly Neighbourhood pick up: If you regularly access food provided by House of Friendship in your neighbourhood, you have the option to pick up your Christmas items at the same time as your weekly neighbourhood pick up. You can choose this option when your register for your Christmas hamper.

The neighbourhood distribution sites include:

  • Kingsdale Community Centre (Dec 8)
  • Victoria Hills Community Centre (Dec 13)
  • Courtland Shelley Community Centre (Dec 14)
  • Forest Height Community Centre (Dec 14)
  • Centreville Chicopee Community Centre (Dec 15)
  • Sunnydale Community Centre (Dec 16)
  • Chandler Mowat Community Centre (Dec 16)

Frequently Asked Questions

OVERVIEW

Q: How do I thaw my frozen turkey, ham or halal chicken?

To learn how to thaw your turkey, ham or halal chicken and for more recipes check out this page

Q: What is included in the 2021 Christmas Food Hamper?

This year each family in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge will receive a gift card and their choice of a frozen turkey, turkey breast (feeds 2-4 people), a ham or halal chicken (vegetarian options available). The value of the gift card depends on the size of the family.

Q: Who can apply?
Anyone who is living on a low income in Waterloo Region and self identifies their need. We will not require proof of income status but optional demographic questions about your source of income will be asked.

*Receiving a Christmas Hamper will not impact your ability to receive other supports during the Christmas season such as your weekly neighbourhood food distribution. *

Q: How to register?
You can register by completing the online Christmas hamper registration form.  In person registration will not be available this year. If you need help with the online form, call 519-742-5860.

Q: How has COVID-19 changed the program?
In previous years, The Christmas Hamper has consisted of a box of food, a frozen turkey and a small gift card for families in Waterloo Region. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted to gift cards and a frozen turkey to ensure the program could be delivered safely.

Q: I would prefer a food hamper because I have trouble using gift cards, can I get food instead?
Please call the Christmas Bureau and we will work with you to get you what you need.

Q: When is the best time to call for support?
Staff will be available to answer questions Monday to Friday from 9:30 – 4:30 pm. Call 519-742-5860.

REGISTRATION

Q: I registered but I forgot something, how do I add food or gifts to my registration? 

If you forget to add food or gifts to your registration, you cannot register again. Instead please call the Christmas Bureau at 519-742-5860 or email info@christmashampers.ca and we can add or change anything on your registration! 

Q: When registering I noticed that there are new dates for pick up on December 11th and 18th, what are these?

Due to the large demand this year we have been adding in new pick up dates for families to choose from. The location of these pick ups is still to be determined but as soon as we know the Christmas Bureau will contact you by email or phone to let you know where the location is.

Q: Do I have to register for everything? Or can I choose Christmas Turkey only? Or only a gift card? Or only gifts for my kids?

Yes. You can register for one or all of the following if applicable:

  • Turkey (or other meat item)
  • Gift Card
  • Gifts (Children 15 and under only)

Q: My friend or neighbour wants to register, can I help them?
Of course you can! If they need help, you can assist by filling in the online form with them. It can be found at www.christmashampers.ca.  We will be asking for family information during the registration, therefore the applicant should be there with you.

Q: I am a caseworker with a local Social Services agency.  How can I help my clients sign up?
Encourage them to fill out the form online or you are welcome to help them fill out the form on their behalf.  Be prepared with the names, birthdays, address, email and phone number and preferences of the household.  If you have incomplete information we will not be able to complete the registration.

Q: I know a family/person who needs help, can I give you their number and can you call them?
No.  They will need to complete the registration form or call us. Please feel free to help them with the registration if needed or have them contact the Christmas Bureau for more help.

Q: When does registration open and close?
Registration opens November 1 at 9:00am and closes November 30th.

Q: I missed the registration window, can I still register for a Hamper.
Please contact info@christmashampers.ca and we will help you as best we can.

Q: What do I do if I need to change my appointment time?
Call the Christmas Bureau office at 519-742-5860.

Q: Do I need to apply every year?
Yes. You must apply every year in order to receive support for the Christmas Program

Q: Can I still register if I work full time?
Yes. If you self-identify your need, have a low income, or are in need of food assistance during the holiday season, you can register for a Christmas hamper.

Q: I am not on OW or ODSP. Can I still register?
Yes. You can still register for the Christmas Hamper if you are not on OW or ODSP.

Q: I am retired and receiving a pension. Can I still register?
Yes. People on Old Age Pension can apply for a Christmas hamper.

Q: Can I still register if I do not live in the Waterloo Region?
No. We only serve Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge (including Ayr and North Dumfries), Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich. People who live in other cities and towns should apply to their food banks for food assistance.

GIFTS

Q: Can I get gifts for my kids?
Gifts are provided to families with children aged 15 and under. At this time, we are only able to offer gifts to the primary parent/guardian. Primary Parent is a term to describe the parent who has the most parenting time with the child(ren) after separation.  If there is equal parenting only one registration per child can be accepted at this time.

Q: How do I get gifts for my children in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge?
Gifts will be available from the Salvation Army.  You can schedule an appointment to pick up gifts when you register for your Christmas Hamper.

Q: I have my grandchildren over for Christmas./ I know a grandma/grandpa who needs gifts for their grandchildren. Can I get gifts for them?
If the grandparents are the legal guardians for the children, yes the Salvation Army can assist them with gifts. If they are not, no we unfortunately cannot accommodate.

Q: Can I apply for gifts only?

Yes. If you just need gifts for your children you can apply for gifts only.

PICKUP/DELIVERY

Q: I have a mobility barrier can I have the turkey and gift card delivered?
Yes. If you live in Kitchener or Waterloo, you can choose to have your items delivered. You will choose this when you register. If you live in Cambridge and need your items delivered, please contact the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank (519-622-6550) to request this. 

Q: What do I need to bring with me to pick up my Christmas Hamper?
Please bring the following:

  • A piece of ID
  • A mask (please wear it)
  • Copy of confirmation (paper or electronic copy). This was sent to you by email, text or mail when you registered.

Q: Where is the gift pick up location in Kitchener and Waterloo?
Pickups will happen at 75 Tillsley Drive, Kitchener. During registration you will sign up for a gift appointment time. The location will also be provided in the confirmation email after registration is complete.

Q: Where is the gift pick up location in Cambridge?
Pickups will happen at 16 Shade Street, Cambridge. During registration you will sign up for a gift appointment time. The location will also be provided in the confirmation email after registration is complete.

Q: Where are the turkey and gift card pick up locations in Kitchener and Waterloo and Cambridge?
When you register for a Christmas Hamper in Kitchener, Waterloo or Cambridge, you will sign up for your preferred pick up location or for delivery. Your confirmation email will remind you of these details.

Q: Can I pick up a Christmas Hamper for my friend?
Yes you can pick up another hamper for your friend or neighbour, if they have already registered. Please bring a copy of their confirmation in order to be able to pick up on their behalf

Q: When can I get my Christmas hamper?

Kitchener-Waterloo

  • Delivery will occur on Saturday December 11th and Sunday December 12th from 9:30 am – 2:00 pm. If you are unavailable during this timeframe, our team will contact you to arrange another time.
  • Pick Up times are chosen during registration but will occur from December 8th – December 17TH

Cambridge

  • Pick up times are chosen during registration and your confirmation email will have these details. If you have questions about gifts, call the Cambridge Salvation Army at 519-623-1221.

If you have questions about food, call the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank at 519-622-6550.

Wilmot/Wellesley

  • Hampers will be delivered mid-December.

Woolwich

  • Hampers will be ready for pick-up in December.

For more information on each, please visit the Delivery/ Pickup page.

Q: Who do I contact if I missed my appointment to pick up my turkey and gift card?
Please contact the Christmas Bureau at 519-742-5860.

OTHER QUESTIONS

Q: I have guests for Christmas, can I get a hamper for them?
No. We only provide Christmas hampers to a person or family who resides with you.

Q: We are two different families or two different individuals in the same address, can we get two separate Christmas hampers?
Yes, if two different households live in the same address, you may register for separate Christmas hampers. We define a household as a group of people who generally share meals together.

Q: Where can I get Christmas meals during Christmas time?
There are a number of groups that provide Christmas meals during the holiday season.  They are not affiliated with the Christmas Bureau.  Have a look at Ontario 211 for information on community meals.

Q: How can I help?  I want to donate, volunteer or sponsor a family!
You can help in a variety of ways!  Please refer to our How to Help Section for more information.