Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How does someone apply for help from Christmas Exchange for a food hamper or voucher?

Answer: If you are currently a client of a social service organization such as a food bank outlet, Community Resource Centre, or receive social assistance or ODSP, or are a member of a faith community, have a child in day care or school, contact that organization and ask to be referred. You can also call 2 1 1 (not 6 1 3 first, just 2 1 1) and tell them what area of the city you live in, and they will provide you with the contact information of an organization near you that does intake for Christmas Exchange for food, as well as the Toy Centre. This referral process starts in early October.

  1. How does someone apply for toys from the Toy Centre (Toy Mountain)?
Answer: You can apply for toy assistance from the Salvation Army Toy Centre (Toy Mountain) in the same way you apply for food assistance from Christmas Exchange. (see #1 above)
  1. Can we donate food and toys to the Christmas Exchange to give to those in need?

Answer: Christmas Exchange provides food and the Salvation Army provides the toys. You can donate toys through the Toy Mountain outlets in the local malls and the TD/Canada Trust branches, as well as at the Ottawa Santa Claus parade.

Most of the assistance provided by Christmas Exchange is in the form of a redeemable voucher which is mailed directly to the client – approximately 9,500 a year. We do provide 250 to 300 hampers to our clients who are unable to do their own food shopping. Through out the years we have found that it is more economical and efficient if we purchase the food directly from the supplier, so we prefer donations of cash. However, if you wish to donate food, please contact the Ottawa Food Bank at 613-745-7001. If you wish to donate a full hamper of food, please contact the Shepherds of Good Hope at 613-789-8210 and they will provide you with a family to help. You can also call 2 1 1 for a list of other organizations accepting food and toys. Remember, by providing help to these organizations you will be effectively removing clients from the Christmas Exchange list, allowing funds to go much further.

  1. How much does a food hamper cost?

Answer: The average cost of a food hamper given in Ottawa (based on a survey of all organizations that provide hampers) is $100.

  1. What is in a food hamper?

Answer: A food hamper is a box of food containing everything needed to make a traditional Christmas dinner. Christmas Exchange hampers contain: a can peas or beans; canned corn; canned cranberries; boxed stuffing; instant coffee; tea bags; hot chocolate; chocolate candy; fruitcake cake or seasonal cookies; margarine; apple juice; carrots; potatoes;; onions; box of clementines; bread; milk; biscuit mix.

In addition, small hampers for 1 and 2 people contain a chicken; medium hampers for 3 to 5 people contain an 18 to 22 lb turkey; Larger hampers for 6 or more people contain a turkey and chicken, an extra loaf of bread and litre of milk, and a bag of rice.

  1. Can I put together a food hamper and deliver it to someone on your list who needs it?

Answer: Yes. Please call the Shepherds of Good Hope at 613-789-8210 for the name of a deserving family. Or call 2 1 1 for names of other organizations where you can sponsor a family. By sponsoring a family from another organization like the Shepherds of Good Hope, you will be taking a family off the list of the Christmas Exchange, as other organizations let us know who they are helping so that we don’t duplicate the service.

  1. How do people qualify to receive a food hamper or voucher from the Christmas Exchange?

Answer: Clients are referred to the Christmas Exchange by other social service organizations and we take their word for it that the client is in need.