Amanda Zaremba has a grim but clear understanding of how difficult things would be for her family if it weren't for the Kelowna Community Food Bank.
"I go to the food bank every month," says Zaremba, 29. "If they weren't there, I would probably starve, that's how bad things are."
Zaremba is a mother of two young children, and she's pregnant with twins expected next spring. She draws a disability benefit of about $1,600 a month, but her rent alone takes $1,100.
That doesn't leave much for food, clothing and other necessities. Along with the groceries she receives from the food bank, Zaremba also picks up one of the agency's Tiny Bundles packages every Friday.
That's a parcel specifically designed for the low-income parents of infants and toddlers. Stuffed with items like diapers and baby food, Zaremba estimates the bundles are worth another $300 to her family's budget.
Zaremba's three-year-old son, Vojtech, has autism as well as some significant physical challenges. Her five-year-old daughter, Jay-Lynn, is healthy, but beginning to realize she likely won't have the same kind of present-filled Christmas many other kids her age enjoy.
Two years ago, Zaremba and her children were a sponsored family with the food bank. That meant they were the recipients of many gifts provided by kindhearted donors.
"Boy, that was the best Christmas ever," Zaremba said, recalling a raft of presents that included things such as a car seat and stroller.
People who receive help from the food bank can only ask to be a sponsored family every three years, however, so there won't be that kind of personalized touch this Christmas.
Still, she's profoundly thankful for the ongoing assistance provided by the food bank to her family. "We're very grateful," she says. "I don't know how we'd get along without them."
Donations to the Be an Angel campaign can be made at any branch of Valley First Credit Union, at The Daily Courier or online at kelownadailycourier.ca.