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Vancouver's Union Gospel Mission bringing Christmas to those in need

(Courtesy: Twitter @ugm)

UGM is doing what it can to make Christmas special this year while the pandemic has driven up need for its services

UGM will be handing out Christmas hampers to hundreds of households

There will also be some holiday treats for those at UGM's shelter

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The pandemic has disproportionately affected the less fortunate, but from Christmas hampers to handing out small gifts, Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission is doing its part in making the holidays special.

UGM’s Jeremy Hunka says the COVID-19 health crisis has driven up demand for the organization’s services.

“We saw more people coming to UGM, we saw more families in need, people losing jobs who had never really been in a position where they needed to ask for help, coming to us. That’s really seared into my memory from the last year,” he says.

RELATED: Vancouver’s UGM expands to keep up with heightened pandemic need

UGM has been able to expand its hamper program for low-income individuals by about 40 per cent from last year, he adds.

“In total, when we combine the Christmas Hampers and then smaller Christmas carts for singles and seniors, basically, more than 500 households will have something to open on Christmas Day that might not otherwise,” he says.

There will also be some holiday treats for those at UGM’s shelter.

“We’ll be giving out some small Christmas gifts to everyone who’s in our shelter. That will be a card, maybe some Christmas sweets, just a little bit of acknowledgment that our guests are valuable and we care for them.  We want them to feel loved and special,” he says.

“The need is still incredibly large and we’re grateful that we can do these things to help people through this year and bring some joy at a difficult time.”

UGM served up its 80th annual Christmas dinner earlier this month.

-with files from Tamara Slobogean