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Charities hoping citizens answer the call

This is the week a lot of the generosity already exhibited towards Red Deer Christmas charities will make it into the hands of those who need it.

Even so, those charities are hoping the flow of donations continues coming in through the last full week before Christmas.

Those families being helped through the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family campaign will have their packages delivered this week.

Overall, the number of families registered through the initiative is about 145, down significantly from last year when 170 families were supported.

“I would like to think of that as a good thing, that people are just doing a little bit better and not as many people need the help,” said Major Larry Bridger.

Approximately 110 sponsors have signed up to provide the support packages, a similar total to last year.

Each sponsor typically supports one family, while money raised through the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign is allocated to purchase goods for the other applicants.

It is in the kettle campaign that the charity is hoping for plenty of support before it wraps up for the year on Dec. 23.

As of Tuesday, the campaign had brought in $93,000 — with a goal of $200,000, the Salvation Army will need an average of $10,000 stuffed in its kettles every day from that day on to meet its target.

The organization also sent out an appeal on Friday asking for volunteers to man the kettles and ring some bells for the last week of the long-running initiative.

Bridger said there are approximately 50 two-hour shifts that still need to be filled for the week; he encouraged interested helpers to call 403-346-2251 to commit to a shift or two.

The Red Deer Food Bank Society is hoping for another week of generosity too.

Christmas hampers will start to roll out to those in need today, and while the food bank remains well stocked with food, it is still in need of cash donations.

“Three weeks ago I needed a huge miracle. Now we only need a big miracle,” said executive director Fred Scaife.

He said the number of people accessing the food bank this year appears to be up slightly.

Money donated to the food bank goes towards buying critical, perishable food items — “the three Ms: milk, meat and margarine,” as Scaife puts it — and paying the bills for the centre and the salaries of the few paid staff.

“The reality is we need to put gas in our truck to go pick up the food at the grocery store six days a week. We need to pay the electricity bill to keep the lights on so the volunteers can see what they’re doing. We need to pay a phone bill,” said Scaife.

With Mother Nature easing her deathly-cold grip on Central Alberta over the past week, donations seem to have picked up across the board. After a week where truckload upon truckload of gifts were delivered to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau, president Teresa Kutynec said the collection centre was “swamped!”

“We have been bombarded with donations. Like, holy cow. Red Deer has just been very generous this year,” she said.

The Toys for Tickets program wrapped up on Friday with a city bus bringing over a few dozen bags filled with toys — most worth plenty more than the tickets would have cost — that will end up in the hands of children. Approximately 900 hampers will be delivered on Thursday and Friday.

The Christmas Bureau is accepting applications for support until 4:30 p.m. today, with Tuesday the last day for shopping. Kutynec said she expects client numbers for 2013 will be similar to last year when all is said and done.

New this year is the Miracle on Gaetz set-up at the Greyhound bus depot where people can learn about the Christmas Bureau and other special Christmas charitable initiatives going on in Red Deer and donate in a drop-off box until Dec. 31. Kutynec said the hope is to make the set-up an annual thing.



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