Charities on the rebound

A last-minute burst of good will has given a big boost to groups that make their major fundraising drives during the holiday season.

A last-minute burst of good will has given a big boost to groups that make their major fundraising drives during the holiday season.

Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, Red Deer Christmas Bureau and the Salvation Army all say that donations have risen sharply since local media reported that donations were falling short while their needs had increased this year.

Response to that call for help has been incredible, ensuring that there is a hamper and gifts for every person or family who has applied, say people working for each of the three charities.

“Let’s just say the pressure’s off,” said Willy Bullock, executive director of the Red Deer Christmas Bureau.

Lori Ouellette, marketing and community partnerships co-ordinator for the Women’s Outreach, said her group was able to match a sponsor to each of the families that had asked for its help this Christmas.

Like the Women’s Outreach and the Christmas Bureau, the Salvation Army includes and adopt-a-family program in its Christmas drive. Unlike the Women’s Outreach, it did not find enough sponsors to look after all of the families that applied, said family services co-ordinator Shawna Wilnechenko.

However, there is enough money in the kitty and the Angel Tree campaign has collected enough children’s gifts to fill the gaps, she said.

Angel Trees are set up at local Dairy Queens. Each bears cards with the ages and genders of children in need. The donor takes a child’s card and returns with an appropriate gift to the tree.

While all families will be helped, the annual kettle drive is still about $41,000 short of its goal of $175,000, based on what it took in last year.

There was a shortage of volunteers to look after the kettles and the average collected had also fallen, said Wilnechenko.

The Salvation Army remains hopeful that it will get close to its goal by Christmas Eve.

Bullock said the Christmas Bureau has now received applications from 1,042 families, representing 1,060 children. That’s almost 350 more applications than it received last year.

More sponsors have been found and loads of gifts and money have poured in over the past few days. Coupled with carryover from last year, the donations will be sufficient to make sure everyone is looked after this Christmas, said Bullock.

However, it also means there will be very little carryover for next Christmas. Bullock is hopeful that donations will rise significantly in time for Santa’s annual visit in 2010.

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