The Gift returns Nov. 18

Laylah Beaton and Tobias Gale were among the students from Queen Elizabeth School in Chatham that helped paint signs for The Gift’s upcoming holiday campaign. The event, designed to collect toys and food for residents in need will take place across Chatham-Kent Nov.18., food

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Gift is gearing up for its annual Christmas campaign Nov. 18.

On that day, organizers are asking residents across Chatham-Kent to place a gift of their choosing on their doorstep for pickup at noon.

Non-perishable food items, toys and household goods are welcome. Donations will be distributed by volunteers to those in need in time for the holiday season.

Brent Wilken of Come Together CK, one of the groups that supports The Gift, said a flurry of activity is taking place in preparation of the event.

“We’ve made 1,500 signs in local schools getting ready for it,” Wilken said. “We’re getting everything in place.”

Although most of the details have been ironed out in the municipality’s smaller communities such as Tilbury and Ridgetown, the Chatham drive has one missing link. Wilken said The Gift is still searching for a location in the city to store its donations.

The grassroots non-profit organization found itself without a home after being asked to leave the former Sears building as its headquarters for the past two years. A local investor’s group that owns the Downtown Chatham Centre had been providing the space free of charge.

Currently, The Gift is operating at the Indigenous community centre located at the corner of Adelaide and Wellington Streets in Chatham.

“We’re making do with what we’ve got,” Wilken explained, noting interest in The Gift remains high as it provides a low-barrier way for people to join in a common cause.

“That’s the beauty of The Gift,” Wilken said. “People get hooked on working together with their neighbours to make their neighbourhoods better.”

The Gift is now heading into its fourth year. The popular campaign evolved from the record-breaking May 16 Miracle food drive that debuted in 2020.

A new twist added last year is back for 2023. Participants are being asked to ‘bust a move’ and send their dance to The Gift for upload on the website. Various communities get in on the act with entries such as the “Shrewsbury Snorkel” and the “Wheatley Wave.”

To find out more about activities with The Gift, including how to volunteer or benefit from donations, please access the drive online at


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