It’s a wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful.
Saskatoon’s Salvation Army has seen an increase in demand for holiday hampers after many families have struggled financially.
“People who have never had to ask for help before but because of COVID, they’re in a position they’ve never been in before,” Salvation Army executive director Judy Regamey said.
“Normally we assist about 4,000 households and this year we’re already up to 5,300, so it’s a significant jump in families that are needing the help.”
The Adopt a Family program matches donors with families who will receive food and gifts. With the increased demand, there have been almost twice as many matches as there were in 2019.
Nearly 500 families will receive a hamper from the program, but the process looks a lot different this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on additional challenges for distributing donations.
People who are donating will drop off hampers at TCU Place Saturday where it will be stored for 24 hours.
Then the families accepting donations will be able to pick up hampers Sunday.
“We bring that box out and then the family takes it from that same table because we’re trying to keep those distances. It’s complicated with this whole COVID thing because we want to stay careful,” Regamey said.
The Salvation Army helps many other Christmas charities in the city including the Secret Santa Foundation.
In a typical year, volunteers gather in a large warehouse where toys and 40,000 pounds of food are organized and donated to 800 families. For safety reasons, gift cards will be given out instead.
“Funding is slimmer, all of those things non-profits are struggling with. We’re really, really excited to say we’re actually providing for 1,000 families this year in Saskatoon,” Secret Santa Foundation executive director Nicole Semko said.
“The families in need really are still being looked after in the same manner to which we have in the past. It’s just that we look a little different, we’re a little bit more in the background in a way.”
Both the Salvation Army and Secret Santa Foundation are still accepting monetary donations on their websites ahead of Christmas.