Economy to blame for fewer donations, higher demand of Edmonton charities

WATCH ABOVE: Some Edmonton charities are experiencing hardship. As Julia Wong reports, they say the recent economic downturn may be to blame.

EDMONTON – The poor economy is being blamed for fewer donations to charitable holiday initiatives in Edmonton.

Lana Nordlund, the executive director of Santas Anonymous, said there is still an urgent need to provide gifts for more than 2,000 children during its walk-in program this week.

“We’re looking at probably at least another 400 or 500 toys for toddlers and probably at least another 600 or so for the nine to 12 year old range,” she said.

Nordlund said the economy may be responsible for this year’s higher than average demand and the lower than expected donations.

“We have definitely noticed a decrease. We [normally] get $1-million worth of toys. That has certainly gone down. We have monetary donations and we’ve definitely seen a decrease in those monetary donations,” she said.
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It is a similar story for the Christmas Bureau, which puts together food hampers for families in need.

Darlene Kowalchuk said the organization is at 49 per cent of its $1.7-million goal. She said it would normally have already surpassed 50 per cent of its goal this time of year.

Kowalchuk said many people have told her that they are unable to hold fundraisers and events for the Christmas Bureau because of the economy.

“I think people are concerned about the economy and their money so things are a little slower than we would like it to be,” she said.

At the same time she added the organization has seen a 12 per cent increase in need.

“People who have never turned to the Christmas Bureau before are having a struggling time this year to put together a festive meal on the table,” she said.

Kowalchuk said the organization needs to raise $850,000 to avoid going into debt to pay its grocery bill. If it does, it will be the first time in the Christmas Bureau’s history that it will go into debt.

WATCH: Adopt-A-Teen program still looking for participants in Edmonton

Another organization, Adopt-a-Teen, which provides $50 gift cards to teens in need in the Edmonton area, is also short of its goal with only a week to go before Christmas.

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Spokesperson Claire Theobald said Adopt-a-Teen helps approximately 8,600 teens but is $245,000 short of its fundraising goal.

“It definitely is a little daunting when we look at the amount we have still left to raise,” she said.

Theobald said the economy may be to blame and she hopes Edmontonians step up to the plate to help.

“The ask is bigger this year so this is the most teens we’ve had on the list and the most money we’ve had to raise to make sure they have one of these gifts,” she said.

“People are giving what they can and that’s all we can really ask. With the ask being so great this year, obviously we want to keep up with this demand but at the same time it’s hard for Edmonton families to spare those extra dollars.”