Adopt a Teen: 4,800 Edmonton teenagers still need a Christmas gift

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WATCH ABOVE: Nearly 5,000 underprivileged Edmonton teens may go without a Christmas present this year because of a lack of donations to the Adopt-A-Teen program. Spokesperson Claire Theobald explains – Dec 20, 2016

UPDATE: As of Friday morning, there were still 1,500 teenagers on the waiting list, with just four hours to go on the Adopt-A-Teen campaign. Donations can be made online at, or by phoning 780-414-7694 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Thousands of Edmonton teenagers may go without a Christmas present this year, because a local charity has received less than half of the donations it needs to help underprivileged youths.

The Edmonton Sun Adopt-A-Teen program says some 4,200 teens have been taken care of, but 4,800 teens still need a gift.

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

The program works in partnership with two other Edmonton charities. The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton gives a complete holiday meal to families, while Santas Anonymous puts toys under the tree. Adopt a Teen fills the gap between, to ensure teenagers aren’t forgotten.

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“So where [Santas Anonymous] provides gifts to kids up to the age of 12, we pick up at age 13 and provide the kids from underprivileged families from 13 to 17 one of these $50 Walmart gift cards so they have something under the tree, too,” Edmonton Sun reporter and Adopt-A-Teen Spokesperson Claire Theobald explained.

READ MORE: Top 5 ways Edmontonians can help out in the community without cash

Instead of collecting or buying gifts for teens, the charity gives them a gift card – which is often the only present the teens will get at Christmas.

“Teens are a diverse bunch, you know at that age they’re figuring out who they are and what their interests are, and we found the best way to support them in creating those little Christmas miracles that they wish for throughout the year is to give them a $50 Walmart gift card, ” Theobald explained, saying that way kids can pick out whatever they want.

While a $50 donation will provide a complete gift for a teen, a donation of any amount is appreciated. Theobald said the charities hold a walk-in day close to Christmas for families to come get essentials.

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“A lot of the time the teens come in and don’t expect anything for themselves. What they really come for is to help their family, so at the end of the trip when they find out there is one of these gift cards waiting for them, the joy is really indescribable.”

Donations can be made online, by phone or by cheque.

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

Families in need can apply to the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, which handles the administrative side for all three charities.

Demand for help from the Christmas Bureau is up 20 per cent this year. The charity expects to help over 70,000 people this year, up from 65,000 in 2015.

As of Wednesday, the bureau was only 47 per cent of the way towards its  $1.8 million fundraising goal.