The Okotoks Food Bank's busiest time of the year is in full swing.

Coming off Thanksgiving and record usage over the summer and into the school year, the food bank jumped headfirst into the Christmas season.

Executive Director Pamela McLean, who has announced she'll be departing from the role at the end of the year, says she had a feeling this holiday season would be a wild one.

"We are definitely in full swing. It's why I took that first week of November off. If I had to use up some vacation, it just wasn't possible to do it after that."

Their Christmas Food Hamper and Adopt a Family programs have been launched, and McLean says it's likely to be their busiest year yet.

"We started to receive requests to sign up in October right after the Thanksgiving hampers. Some previous clients had reached out to me to give me a heads up that they haven't used Christmas hampers in the past, they've been able to go it on their own in the last couple of years but wanted to give me a heads up that they're signing up this year. Just those indicators," says McLean.

"If we don't give out 250 hampers this year, I will be surprised. It'll be a happy surprise, but that's what the markers are indicating. Certainly 250-300, so I have our butcher on high alert."

McLean says those looking to contribute to the food bank during this busy season have a few options.

"Adopt a Family if you can. We had to increase our rates a little bit this year just because of the insane increase to the cost of food. So Adopt a Family, a small, medium, or large-sized family, that's a great way to do it. You can contribute by buying a ticket to one of the Christmas concerts December 12th or 13th. Donate online, you can online donate via our website."

On December 11, the Canadian Pacific Kansas City Holiday Train will be making a stop in Okotoks, which will give Okotokians a chance to support the food bank while enjoying live music.

Locals will also have an opportunity to donate at the upcoming Charity Checkstop on Dec. 14.

Of course, food donations are always welcome too.

"Turkeys and hams are what we're giving out this year. If you'd like to purchase a turkey or ham and bring it to the food bank, I'd just remind people, please try to bring the receipt with you. We'd love to give you a tax receipt for that donation in kind. We're able to do that if you bring the sales slip with you. Every little bit helps. If you're counting your own pennies and you want to help, even if it's picking up that extra can of soup, canned meat, or Kraft Dinner as you're picking up your own groceries and popping it into the grocery store food bank bin. Nothing is too small at this time of year."

More information on the Okotoks Food Bank's events and programs can be found on their website.

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