Red Deer Christmas Bureau director Linda Waschuk checks the shelves at the Christmas Bureau on Monday.

Downturn prompts run on Christmas charities

Local non-profits are calling on Central Albertans to demonstrate their Christmas spirit by donating to hamper and toy programs.

Local non-profits are calling on Central Albertans to demonstrate their Christmas spirit by donating to hamper and toy programs.

Last Thursday, Red Deer Christmas Bureau started accepting applications from families in need and so far registrations have increased compared last year.

“This time last year we only had 43 applicants and now we’re at 65. We’re figuring we’re going to have a lot more this year,” said Linda Washchuk, Christmas Bureau director, on Monday.

Last year the bureau assisted 947 families with 996 children.

Families from Red Deer, Penhold, Springbrook and Red Deer County have until Dec. 16 to register.

Parents get to shop for gifts for their children for free at the bureau’s toy depot.

Washchuk expects toys based on the Disney movie Frozen will be in demand again this season, and electronics are always popular among children and teens.

“What we do is limit how many (electronics) go out a day. Everything isn’t put out all at once so everyone has a chance at getting the bigger items.”

The bureau also gives out Christmas food hampers. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 16.

Last year Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family campaign helped 180 families with 217 children. Registration began Monday and runs until Dec. 11.

The program matches each donor with a family.

Maj. Larry Bridger said the Salvation Army is still looking for more sponsors due to the downturn in the economy.

“Our sponsors have been very good. But this year, given the times, it’s a little bit more difficult for some and are not able to sponsor a family this year. They just don’t have the money,” Bridger said.

On Thursday at noon, the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign kicks off at Bower Place near Santa. Wild Rose Harmonizers will be singing.

Last year $218,000 was raised to fund its community programs.

“Given the economic times, if we get $210,000 we’ll be really happy,” Bridger said.

Central Alberta Women’s Outreach will be accepting applications for its Adopt-A-Family program until Dec. 15 from single parents who have their children over the holidays. Last year 222 families with 488 children benefited from the program.

In 2014, Family Services of Central Alberta prepared and delivered 550 gift bags for their Gifts for Grandparents program. Donations can be dropped off at 5409 50 Ave. by Dec. 15.

For more information, call the Christmas Bureau at 403-347-2210, the Salvation Army at 403-346-2251, Central Alberta Women’s Outreach at 403-347-2480, and Family Services of Central Alberta at 403-343-6400.

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