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Christmas Bureau demand up 20%, expects to feed 70K Edmontonians in need

Click to play video 'Christmas Bureau needs $1.8M to feed Edmontonians in need' Christmas Bureau needs $1.8M to feed Edmontonians in need
WATCH ABOVE: Donations are down, but demand is up at charities across Edmonton. Kendra Slugoski reports from the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton breakfast, where the goal is to raise $1.8 million for food hampers – Dec 13, 2016

There are more mouths to feed this holiday season and the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton says it’s having a hard time meeting the demand.

The bureau was expecting an increase of between 12 and 15 per cent in the number of clients it serves this year. So far, they’ve received 20 per cent more applications.

“Everbody is struggling. Our clients are struggling, but so are the businesses in this community,” corporate engagement manager Paula Colvin said Tuesday morning at the organization’s annual breakfast. The event, put on by Dentons law firm, is a major fundraiser for the bureau.

But companies are telling the charity, “Not this year.”

“They are who we rely on for our fundraising efforts, so we’ve been working really hard to help them help us.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton charities worry about meeting Christmas demand in bad economy

The organization is looking to raise $1.8 million to pay for all the food hampers going out to less-fortunate Edmonton residents this upcoming weekend. The bureau has raised only about a quarter of that.

It expects to help over 70,000 people this year, up from 65,000 in 2015. Requests from seniors alone have spiked 42 per cent this year, with over 3,000 elderly asking for help.

“What we provide is not just the staples that they would normally get, but rather the sharing of a traditional family meal together during the season,” Colvin explained.

The hampers aren’t just limited to those who celebrate Christmas. “We also do Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, all of them. Those with cultural needs will get a gift card so they can buy the festive meal that suits them,” she explained.

To help out the Christmas Bureau, head to its website.

— With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News