The Salvation Army Christmas kettles in Red Deer aren’t filling up as quickly as they have in past years.
And many other charitable organizations around the city are facing the growing needs of the city and surrounding area with less donors able to give this year.
Red Deer Salvation Army Captain/Pastor Jason Sabourin said they are down $15,000 in their fundraising from last year at this time. Part of the problem was caused by the organization having to halt its kettle campaign last Saturday due to bad weather.
The Army has seen demand for its services in Red Deer increase 60 per cent over the past year. The Christmas campaign, where they hope to raise $170,000 this year, funds programs throughout the year.
“The public has always been very generous before, but we are getting into the home stretch here and we are off the mark from last year,” Sabourin said.
He said people can also donate food or toys to the office at 4837 54th St., or volunteer as part of the kettle campaign by phoning 403-346-2251.
“We’re optimistic always. Sometimes people are just taking a while to realize that Christmas is only two weeks away,” Sabourin said. “Just to let them know we could certainly use their help.”
The Red Deer Christmas Bureau, which provides a Christmas meal to families and toys for children, has seen demand rise substantially this year. The organization has served 858 families so far this year, compared with 651 families at this time last year.
“We are up considerably. Times are really tough,” said Willy Bullock, director of the toy depot and volunteer co-ordinator at the Red Deer Christmas Bureau. Bullock has been with the organization for more than a decade and she said she can’t remember a time when there was so much need.
She said so far they’ve managed to squeak by with things like Stuff a Bus and Toys for Tickets events, but she said with the Charity Check Stop cancelled due to bad weather and roads, it will be tougher to meet all of the needs. She said they could really use gifts for girls from age nine to 11, boys and girls between age 13 to 16 and babies from newborns to one-year-olds.
Bullock said they also didn’t get as many items at the Toss a Tuque event at the Red Deer Rebels game this year, picking up four bags compared with eight to 10 bags they’d collected in the past. She said they especially need mittens. Anyone wishing to drop of items to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau can go to Bay 10, 7429 49th Ave.
The United Way of Central Alberta is hoping everyone who can donate will do so this year. The organization is challenging everyone within Central Alberta who is working to give an hour of pay to the United Way, or more if possible. People can do so on the United Way of Central Alberta website at http://newsite.caunitedway.ca/wordpress/ or by phoning 403-343-3900.
“We have never been let down by this community in the past and so we have a lot of hope that this will be a year that we can count on everybody,” said Heather Gardiner, CEO of the United Way of Central Alberta. “This campaign will be successful if everyone does something.”
The United Way of Central Alberta has raised 61 per cent of its goal of $2,103,103. The “103” in the fundraising amount is to highlight the one in three Central Albertans who have used an agency funded by the United Way within the community.
“We really want to send home the message that we need every single person who is working to help those who are not,” Gardiner said. She said there is a greater need in the community this year than before.
The Christmas Seals campaign run by the Lung Association, Alberta and Northwest Territories, has had a harder time finding donors this year as well.
Director of communications Joanna Byers said the association mails out seals to people and encourages them to donate or even to put the seals on their Christmas packages and mail to remind others to donate.
Last year, the organization raised $17,000 in Red Deer, but so far they’ve just raised $12,000. The fundraiser helps fund everything the organization does throughout the year.
Byers said even though there is no longer an office in Red Deer because costs forced the association to close it a number of years ago, local people are helped by the association’s services, including funding for respiratory therapists, information services and research.
People can find out more information on donating at www.ab.lung.ca