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Edmonton charities make final push ahead of Christmas deliveries

Click to play video 'Edmonton charities feeling the impact of a struggling economy' Edmonton charities feeling the impact of a struggling economy
WATCH ABOVE: The countdown to Christmas is on and local charities are hoping Edmontonians will feel "the spirit of the season." As Quinn Ohler reports, some organizations are faced with a decrease in donations and an increase in demand – Dec 18, 2017

‘Tis the season of giving but some Edmonton Christmas charities still have a long way to go to reach their holiday season goals.

“There’s just more people who are struggling a little bit more this year,” said Darlene Kowalchuk, executive director of the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.

Kowalchuk said the economic downturn has meant donations are down and demand is up.

So far, $877,493 has been raised for the Christmas Bureau, nearly 55 per cent of the organization’s goal.

The charity’s walk-in days for clients  are set for this weekend. Usually, between 2,500 and 3,000 people will show up. This year, that number is expected to double.

“Think about your neighbour,” Kowalchuk said. “You may not realize they are struggling because they haven’t told you their story, they haven’t told you that they need help, but they’re desperately trying to figure out how they’re going to provide for Christmas.”

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The 23,000 households that the Christmas Bureau will serve ends up being more than 60,000 Edmontonians citywide. About 47 per cent of those people are children under the age of 18.

Volunteers are preparing festive hampers for clients of Edmonton’s Food Bank. Quinn Ohler, Global News

The need is also up at  Edmonton’s Food Bank. The organization is hoping to raise 325,000 kilograms of food and $1.75 million. It’s reached 60 per cent of its monetary goal and 70 per cent of its food-donation goal.

READ MORE: Edmonton Food Bank needs more than just cash donations ahead of busy Christmas season

The warm December weather for events like Candy Cane Lane is helping to stock the shelves.

“The warm weather has been bringing lots of people out,” executive director Marjorie Bencz told Global News. “They’ve been very generous with their non-perishable food items.”

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Other events, like the ETS Stuff-a-Bus and the Alberta Motor Association’s Fill our Fleet, are also helping.

On Monday, along with food donations, the AMA handed over a cheque of $42,000 to provincial food banks where AMA has centres. It included$25,000 from AMA and an additional $17,000 from member and staff donations.

“Albertans support one another, it’s just what we do,” said Jeff Kasbrick, vice-president of government and stakeholder relations for the AMA. “Donating to local food banks through AMA is an easy way of showing you care and letting fellow Albertans know they’re not alone.”

READ MORE: Christmas Bureau serves up Christmas spirit at annual Edmonton breakfast

Other charities are wrapping up their campaigns but help is still needed.

Over the weekend, 630 CHED Santas Anonymous volunteers delivered presents for 24,000 children from 9,000 Edmonton families, but the work for the season isn’t over.

Thousand of people donated their time to 630 CHED Santas Anonymous over the weekend. Dave Carels, Global News

The organization is still in need of donations this week – particularly new, unopened toys for babies and toddlers. The group is also asking for books for kids between the ages of seven and nine.

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“[On Dec.] 22 and 23, we have our Walk-In Program for those people that applied too late for delivery,” executive director, Lana Nordlund said.

She added although there isn’t a final tally, monetary donations to the organization are down this year with several of their regular donors either unable to donate at all, or opting to donate less than usual.

READ MORE: Thousands of gifts delivered by 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

Nordlund said she believes that may have meant more volunteers for the organization this Christmas. There were times where they had too many and some had to be turned away because of a lack of space. She also said, anecdotally, there were more volunteer drivers that showed up over the weekend than normal.

With files from 630 CHED’s Kerry McAthey