Christmas Bureau ‘overwhelmed’ by applications

If there’s an economic recovery going on, the Red Deer Christmas Bureau isn’t seeing it — more local residents have been seeking assistance this year than in 2009.

If there’s an economic recovery going on, the Red Deer Christmas Bureau isn’t seeing it — more local residents have been seeking assistance this year than in 2009.

“We’ve been overwhelmed,” said Willy Bullock, director of the bureau’s toy depot. Some 891 applications have been filled out, compared to 818 applications that came in during the same period in 2009.

More gifts have also been given out — so far, some 960, compared to the 893 that were handed out by Dec. 9, 2009.

“We’ve had more people coming in saying, ‘My husband lost his job last Tuesday,’ or ‘He lost his job at the end of November.’ If there’s an economic recovery, I can’t see it,” said Bullock, who has also helped several clients from out of province who came here for work that in some cases starts in a few weeks.

She believes the bureau would be getting even more applications if everyone who needed assistance knew where to find it.

“For sure, some people are having a leaner Christmas,” added Bullock. “But I think some people who’ve lost their jobs are too shy to come in here. They don’t want to ask for help.”

She saw one woman walking back and forth in the parking lot three or four times before she summoned the resolve to walk in and fill out an application form. “People don’t like asking for help but sometimes you have to,” she said.

With so much more demand for gifts, the Red Deer Christmas Bureau is quickly running out of items that would appeal to girls, ages eight to 10, and for male and female teenagers.

Some suggested presents for girls from eight to 10 years are: craft kits, jewelry, art supplies, Snugglies, Bratz dolls, hoodies, sleeping bags or MP-3 players.

Teenagers are always hard to shop for, but some suggested items for them are makeup, nail polish, wallets, watches, jewelry, MP3 players, hoodies, pyjama bottoms, movie tickets, sleeping bags, hair accessories, digital cameras, or styling sets.

Bullock said she has enough volunteers. “We have some very dedicated people, some of whom have been with us for three, four, five, six, years.”

The application deadline for toys and hampers is Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m. The bureau is at Bay 10, 7429 49th Ave.

For more information, call 403-347-2210.

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