Want to give back this holiday season? Christmas Bureau needs volunteers

The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton is asking for donations before the end of the year. Global News

It’s the time of year where many begin to think about ways they can give back to their community. And with the holidays right around the corner, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton has put out an urgent call for volunteers.

The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton connects those in need with more than 85 social service agencies. Every December since 1940, the organization has provided a festive meal to Edmontonians in need at Christmas.

“We’ve been around all this time and we’ve been able to help tens of thousands of people and we just want to keep doing that,” said Katherine Stavropoulos, manager of marketing and communications with the Christmas Bureau.

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The organization is putting a call out for volunteers, including positions at the donation desks, pop-up markets, coat check and walk-in days.

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Stavropoulos said the Christmas Bureau relies on the help of about 900 volunteers throughout the six- to seven-week holiday campaign.

“We’re off to a steady start and we just hope that we can bring the community together,” Stavropoulos said.

“That can include anything from donation desk to working some of the marketplaces we’re involved in — Strathcona Farmers Market pop-ups, pop-ups at grocery stores.

“Our walk-in days on Dec. 19 and 20, we usually see around 6,000 people, so the more bodies the better.”

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Last year, 39,137 people received the Christmas Bureau’s holiday meal. Of those, nearly 15,000 were children under the age of 12 and about 4,700 were between the ages of 13 and 17.

This year, the Christmas Bureau said more than 40,000 people need their help.

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“We’re anticipating that our grocery bill will be approximately $1.3 million, so that’s for gift cards as well as hamper contents,” Stavropoulos said.

“The reason why we also offer the option of getting a gift card is because not everyone celebrates Christmas the same way. We’re very diverse culturally and we want to ensure that whatever makes you happy to pull your family together for that meal, that you’re eating whatever is festive to you and whatever it is that you celebrate.”

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To sign up to volunteer or donate, head to the Christmas Bureau’s website.

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