Time to give: Edmonton charities and non-profits readying for the holidays

Click to play video: 'Charities in Edmonton preparing for holiday season'
Charities in Edmonton preparing for holiday season
WATCH ABOVE: With the holidays fast approaching, Sarah Ryan shows how Edmontonians can help some of the local groups looking to spread holiday cheer to those less fortunate this winter – Nov 18, 2021

It’s that time of year again, when Edmontonians open their hearts and their wallets to help those in need through the holidays.

When you’re out shopping, you might consider picking up toys for 630 CHED Santas Anonymous.

Right now, they especially need presents for older kids.

“Nine to 12 year olds, looking for some new, unwrapped gifts for them. Things like LEGO or puzzles or board games are really good for them. We’re also looking for books,” explained executive director Angel Benedict.

The charity is feeling the effects of the pandemic. Requests for help were up 10 per cent last year, and even more people are requesting assistance this winter.

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“Still early days, but we’re already seeing that upward trend and are looking at about a 13 per cent increase right now for applications,” Benedict explained.

To help raise funds, Santas Anonymous is also running a 50/50 ahead of Black Friday.

And if it’s time you have to share, depot elves and delivery drivers can already sign up online.

“Right now, for in-depot opportunities, we’re mostly full. However, we do open up opportunities each week. And we are encouraging people to register early for delivery driver spots.”

WATCH: Edmonton charity devastated after fire guts its thrift shop and operating space

At London Drugs, the Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program is back for another season.

It invites customers to fulfill the wish list of a local senior.

“Seniors can often be forgotten about, more-so than ever in this pandemic,” said Perry Lubberding, Oliver Square London Drugs store manager. “Seniors are isolated, lonely.”

The requests from the seniors are often simple things like blankets, mugs, socks or calendars.

“Go in to any London Drugs, you should find a tree,” Lubberding said. “There’ll be tags on that tree, most should have a name attached to that, and there’s a wishlist.”

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The program started at his Edmonton store back in 2015, with the hope of helping 40 seniors with Operation Friendship Seniors’ Society.

It has grown tremendously, expanding year after year.

“[It’s in] all our London Drugs stores across Western Canada, so 80 stores now. Last year we came close to 30,000 seniors we managed to get gifts for.”

Those gifts need to be dropped off at the store by Dec. 8, so Santa and his elves can coordinate deliveries to all the care homes.

If you’d prefer to donate food, the Christmas Bureau would love help sponsoring a family’s holiday meal hamper or buying gift certificates for the Adopt-A-Teen program.

They’re expecting to help 40,000 people this season.

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“Our goal is to raise $1.6 million in order to be able to pay for all the food, gift cards and teen cards that we distribute to families in need this year,” explained executive director Darlene Kowalchuk. “Our biggest need right now is cash.”

She said the Christmas Bureau is always concerned people might not have the means to donate.

“We do have people that are clients one year, donors the next year, fundraisers the next year, then they go back to needing help.”

And even though times are tough for many, these groups are hopeful Edmontonians will make sure nobody is left out this winter.

“We hear so many stories from our donors about how it’s a family tradition to put together a hamper and deliver it to another family. Because they have so much and they want to make sure that everyone else has the same advantages at Christmas time,” Kowalchuk said.

“People are just showing up and doing what they can. Edmontonians always show up for Santa’s kids,” Benedict added.

If you need a little help this year, the Christmas Bureau and Santas Anonymous are accepting applications until Nov. 26.

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