630 CHED Santas Anonymous is collecting toys to give to more than 20,000 kids in Edmonton.
Volunteers are looking for some extra help this Christmas season with toy donations down.
Around this time of year, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous’ depot is usually overflowing with toys.
“Right now it’s pretty quiet. Actually, if I’m being honest, it’s probably the quietest I’ve seen it,” said volunteer Jessie Bruce. “I’d like to see the bins at the front a lot more full than they are now and that doorbell ringing a lot more than it is. It’s a little bit alarming.”
Last year volunteers served nearly 50 per cent more people than the previous year and are expecting even more this time around.
“Our donations right now at the door for our toy donations are down about 40 per cent year-over-year, so when we look at the numbers from last year compared to today we’re down about half of the donations we’d usually receive at this point,” said Angel Benedict, executive director of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous.
Benedict says toys are down in particular for infants to one-year-olds, as well as seven to 12-year-olds.
The fact that it doesn’t exactly look like Christmas in Edmonton isn’t helping.
“We also know that snow is a bit of a cue for people. We actually see it within our warehouse that as soon as it snows, we see toy donations increase, and applications increase,” Benedict said.
Daniel Johnstone otherwise known as ‘Can Man Dan’, has camped in the cold to collect toys and food donations for 12 years. This year it took a while to fill his truck and there’s still room. But he’s also noticed this year is different.
“Now with inflation, toys are a little bit more expensive now. People are still giving, but a lot less than they could, so donations are still coming in, not as fast as usual,” said Johnstone.
Even though donations might be down that hasn’t stopped volunteers from stepping up. It’s even inspired one dad and daughter to donate extra toys.
“I think that if you can give, you need to give. When you see how much is necessary here, how quickly these bags fill, and how quickly these bins empty, then maybe one less thing under your tree, so somebody has something under theirs is a really good idea,” said volunteer Mike Ternovetsky.
Staff say no matter what, they will make sure each child gets a toy. They’re just waiting for Edmontonians to help.
“We know they’re going to think about us. They know as soon as they start thinking about Christmas they usually come through for us. So we’re just really asking that they try to get into that spirit a little bit sooner this year,” said Benedict.
Volunteers hope they can reach their goal of 88,000 toys in the next two weeks. This year’s delivery weekend is December 16 and 17.
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