Cold snap at Christmas Bureau

The Red Deer Christmas Bureau has seen a drastic drop in donations at a time when need is the greatest.

Volunteers Wilma Heal

The Red Deer Christmas Bureau has seen a drastic drop in donations at a time when need is the greatest.

A treasurer’s report at a Red Deer Christmas Bureau board meeting on Monday night suggested the organization is down 50 per cent in donations from this time last year, with applications for aid up by more than 30 per cent.

Gary James, vice-president of the Christmas Bureau, said they’re hoping they’ll be down just 30 per cent, if money they’re hoping for comes in.

“It’s not been a good year as far as fundraising goes. We had most of our big events the weekend of the blizzard and that kind of cut everything down for us,” James said.

The RCMP Charity Check Stop was cancelled, the Westerner Christmas Bazaar went on as scheduled but the revenues were down, numbers were down for Stuff a Bus and the Rebels Tuque Toss only took in about half the items it normally does.

“A lot of it is the economy, too. There are people out there who may have given in the past who are not capable of doing it with the economy the way that it is,” James said.

Instead, many people are seeking help from the Red Deer Christmas Bureau this year.

He said the Bureau expects to give out 1,000 Christmas hampers this year compared with around 730 in 2008.

The whole organization is based on donations from the community of Red Deer. He said cash donations would make a big difference to ensuring needs are met this year and next year.

People can drop off donations to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau at bay #10, 7429 49th Ave. in Red Deer.

“We feel if it gets too far out of hand this year, we might have to adjust next year,” James said.

Other charities have been similarly hurt.

Salvation Army Captain/Pastor Jason Sabourin has seen demand for the Salvation Army’s community services increase 60 per cent this year, but the organization hasn’t yet reached the halfway point in its fundraising goal of $173,000. The money raised at Christmas funds programs throughout the year.

“We’re behind from where we were at this time last year,” Sabourin said.

He said the blizzard and current cold snap have kept people away.

“We’re hoping that this next week is a real barn burner,” Sabourin said. People can drop off donations to the Salvation Army at 4874 54th St.

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