A Blackfalds program to help families have a good Christmas is falling far short in financial donations and sponsors, despite an increased need in the community.
For the past several years, Neighbourhood Place has been running Christmas Cheer to support less fortunate families during the holidays.
Businesses and families enrol as sponsors and once accepted are given a profile of a family. They buy presents and retrieve a ham/turkey hamper from the food bank for their chosen family.
Jennifer Howitt, one of the co-ordinators at the nonprofit agency, said this week that they’ve noticed a marked decrease in support from potential sponsors but a 29 per cent rise in families needing the service.
A total of 36 families have applied for Christmas Cheer compared to 28 last year.
The economic recession is being blamed.
“Even at Neighbourhood Place, we’ve noticed it as people come in looking for work,” said Howitt, whose agency has a community job board on hand. “We have a gentleman coming in almost every day, faxing resumes off.”
Howitt said the program will accept sponsors until Monday but after that, it can’t since parcels are being delivered to families two days later.
If it doesn’t get enough sponsors, Neighbourhood Place will have to pick up the slack.
Right now, it needs sponsors for eight to 10 families.
“We have funds available in our Christmas Cheer program to be able to pick up those families, but next year we will be hurting,” Howitt said. “It would probably completely drain our Christmas Cheer account.”
Financial and toy donations are also down, so people can help in that way, too.
Giving money is accepted at any time for Christmas Cheer, since it will help for next year, too.
“Whatever people are willing to step up and do, we will accept wholeheartedly,” Howitt said.
Neighbourhood Place is found at 5016 Waghorn St. Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.