Corus Radio London raises $27K in annual Give a Gift campaign for The Salvation Army

Toys, donations and more piling in at the the Delta Armouries in downtown London, Ont., on Thursday, Dec. 8, as Corus Radio London celebrates their annual Gift a Gift campaign. 980 CFPL (file)

UPDATE: After tallying Thursday’s donations, organizers revealed this year’s campaign raised $27, 296, along with thousands of toys for the Salvation Army.

‘Tis the season of giving, and Corus Radio London is looking to make the holidays even merrier with its annual Gift a Gift campaign.

980 CFPL, alongside sister stations FM96, Fresh Radio and Country 104, will be collecting toys, cash and gift cards in a “drive in, drop off” style at the Delta Armouries in downtown London, Ont., on Thursday.

Unlike the last two years, monetary donations can be made either in person or online.

All donations will support the Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program, which provides those in need with a food hamper and gift card to help them enjoy a more stress-free traditional Christmas celebration over the holidays.

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“It’s great to be back together,” said Glenn van Gulik, public relations director for the Ontario Salvation Army. “Seeing people, their relationships, that’s what we’ve longed for over these last couple of years. But it’s a great opportunity for the community to support each other, neighbours helping neighbours, and we’re seeing the need increase.”

The campaign is a part of the station’s 12 Hours of Hope broadcast, which features “wall-to-wall content on the local charity campaign” that’s been serving the city for more than 10 years.

Last year, the station raised $43,000 in the annual toy drive. But Nancy Kerr, program services manager at The Salvation Army, said the need this year is greater than it’s ever been.

COVID has had a massive impact on people,” she said. “There’s a 50 per cent increase in households having to use our food bank, really since August, and this year we’ve had over 5,000 people apply to our Christmas Hamper Program. Last year, we served just under 4,200 people.”

Van Gulik added that rising interest rates and costs of groceries and gas are all “tension and anxiety points for so many people and it’s affecting everyone.”

“We’re seeing an increase in those coming to us for support,” he said. “About 30 per cent of those that are coming to us are coming for the very first time…. Asking for help can be difficult. But it’s days like this where they can count on The Salvation Army and their community to rally around them and be there to support them.”

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Glenn van Gulik, public relations director for the Ontario Salvation Army, speaking with 980 CFPL ‘The Morning Show’ host Devon Peacock at the annual Gift a Gift campaign in London, Ont., on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. 980 CFPL (file)

According to Kerr, their “greatest need for toys is zero to twos and nine to 12.”

“Those toys are coming in and we start distributing next Wednesday,” she said. “We are expecting over 6,500 children will receive bags of toys from us this year.”

Nick Cake, from Nick Cake Criminal Law and title sponsor of the Gift A Gift campaign, says that for him the charity is “the kickoff into the Christmas season.”

“I’m thinking we’re going to hit three carloads of toys” coming from just his contacts, he said. “When I got the opportunity to be the sponsor, and buy and deliver toys, it’s amazing.”

However, after sponsoring the drive for around 10 years, Cake said he, too, has felt the impact of rising inflation.

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“I’ve been buying toys now for a decade, and the same toys that I was buying four or five years ago are now $10 to $15 more expensive,” he said, emphasizing that the need for an extra hand this holiday season is only growing.

“(The campaign) makes me really proud to be a member of this community because you can see when the community needs to step up, they do,” Cake said.

Van Gulik, referencing the challenges brought on since the start of the pandemic, added that “it takes a long time for people to recover from something like this.”

“We expect, over the coming years, that need to stay high, even increase a little bit more, especially as we head into 2023,” he said.

Toys and donations can be dropped off until 6 p.m. on Thursday at 325 Dundas St.

Subaru of London will be accepting donations until Saturday.

The London Fire Department’s Station No. 1 on Horton Street and The Spectacle Company at 1197 Oxford St. W. will be accepting donations until Dec. 17.

Westmount Shopping Centre, CF Masonville Place and White Oaks Mall will be hosting a drop-off location until Dec. 24.

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The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope at 281 Wellington St. is also open 24 hours for donations.

For more information about the campaign and where to donate online, visit The Salvation Army website.

–With files from Global News’ Devon Peacock and Andrew Graham.

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