Alex McGowan, 8, sits surrounded by the presents she donated to the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper. (Sam Anderson)

Girl, 8, donates birthday presents to Cloverdale Christmas Hamper

‘I have too many toys,’ says Alex McGowan

Ask 8-year-old Alex McGowan about her birthday party and she will tell you that Mad Science threw her a science-themed birthday bash, she got to make slime and eat a lot of orange jello, and that it was amazing.

And if you ask her about her presents?

“I gave them away,” she said, explaining that she asked her guests to bring presents for the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper in lieu of gifts for her.

She also made a point of asking her guests to consider giving gifts that would be suitable for boys from ages 8 to 12.

“Dad searched it up and apparently [the hamper] gets more presents for girls,” said Alex.

Matthew Campbell, who organizes the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper, agreed with Alex. “One of our biggest needs is the age group of boys from 8 to 12,” he said. “They’re the hardest to buy for and the least given.”

He said this is the first time the hamper program has had a donation like this.

“It’s pretty exciting for us,” said Campbell. “We shared it around the office and people were just blown away that someone would choose to give all of their toys away to people in need.”

“It’s a good lesson,” said Alex, shrugging. She then cited a more practical reason for her generosity: “I have too many toys. I could not fit any of that in my playroom or my bedroom,” she said.

Because Alex knew that she “didn’t need any more things” and she knew that the Cloverdale Christmas Hamper is always looking for more things for families that could use a little help during the holiday season, she made the decision with her family to give rather than receive this year.

Alex said she could see it catching on, and that her friends and classmates with birthdays close to Christmas would most likely be happy to donate if they knew it was an option.

In fact, she recently received an invitation to a birthday party and the card had an note saying donations for the local hamper would happily be accepted in lieu of presents.

Hamper hopes for record-breaking donations

Campbell said that the hamper program has a record amount of boxes in the community, and that they are hoping for a record amount of donations this year.

He also said that although the deadline to register to receive a hamper has passed, if you or someone you know is struggling this season, to reach out and let him know. The hamper program will do its best to work something out.

The hampers are open to anyone in need in the Cloverdale area. Applicants must live west of 196th Street and east of 156th Street, north of 0 Avenue and south of the Fraser River.

Applicants must bring ID for each household member and a proof of address.

Hamper recipients will be given food for the holidays and toys for their children. They will also receive an invitation to the Community Turkey Dinner on Monday, Dec. 18.

Community members can contact or go to to learn more.

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