Calgary’s Salvation Army toy warehouse doesn’t have enough toys to keep up with the number of families in need this year.
Normally, the toy warehouse would be full at this time of the holiday season with a steady flow of toys coming in, but this year, it’s having a hard time filling the hampers.
Volunteers were only about half finished the 3,500 hampers Saturday, which need to be filled.
“We are having to send the volunteers home until we get enough toys for them to actually spend time packing the hampers. This week, we’ve been sending the parents home because they had pre-scheduled appointments that we’ve not been able to fill,” Lt.-Col. Larry Martin, area director for public relations with the Salvation Army, said.
“Never had to do this before in our history,” Martin added.
“I spoke with one of the workers who has been at the warehouse day-in and day-out helping to pack the hampers and there were tears in her eyes, because she is so broken with having to send these people home and not being able to meet the need,” Martin said.
Over at the Agriculture Building at the Calgary Stampede Grounds, The Kinette Club of Calgary was busy taking donations for their annual Adopt-a-Family program Saturday. The problem is, in the 11 years they’ve been running it, the Kinettes have never had to provide for so many people in need.
“Of the families that actually qualified for our program, we had to turn away over 25, which isn’t that many when you think about it but it still hurts. It’s hard to say no,” Tanya Greffard, the membership director with the The Kinette Club of Calgary, said.
The main requests made by nearly 300 families in need aren’t for iPads and toys, they’re for things many of us take for granted.
“They are asking for things like grocery cards, things like diapers, cleaning supplies, blankets, feminine hygiene products – just your basic actual household necessities,” Greffard said.
The Kinette Club of Calgary said this year some of the families receiving gifts used to be donors. Conversely, there are donors who know about being in need and the relief that comes with getting a helping hand.
“When I came to Calgary six years ago, I was a single mom. I still am,” said Jodi Webster, who was dropping off items for her adopted family. “I just wanted to give to someone. I have had family and friends who have always helped me and I wanted to give to a family in need and I know how hard this year has been for everyone. I wanted to give and it feels really good.”
The Salvation Army is hopeful its shelves will fill up. The Toy Angels program runs until Dec. 23.
“Calgarians are incredibly generous. They’ve always supported this program,” Martin said. “This particular program is 22 years old but the Salvation Army has been in the city for about 125 years doing the same kind of stuff and we’ve never really been at this kind of juncture before, but we are quite confident they will come through. We understand these are difficult times for Calgarians and they are doing the best they can.”