Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff After signing proclamation for Central Alberta Gives, City of Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer joins Judy Scott of Family Services of Central Alberta for an “Unselfie.”

Red Deer-area charities seek support through Central Alberta Gives

Donations are down in a tough economy: it’s time to focus on philanthropy

Red Deer-area residents are invited to take an “unselfie” to raise awareness about helping Central Alberta charities this Christmas.

Facing a tougher climate for raising donations, about 60 local non-profits are supporting a Central Alberta Gives campaign, which turns the spotlight in November on philanthropy.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer officially proclaimed Nov. 29 as Giving Tuesday. In a short ceremony at the Welikoklad Event Centre, Veer encouraged all citizens to step up “and give back to the community” though volunteerism or donations.

Giving Tuesday is a global movement started to balance out the spending focus of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In the lead-up to Nov. 29, city residents are encouraged to snap #UNselfies and then post the pictures on Twitter and Facebook. People doing acts of service should be the focus, instead of the usual selfie, said Judy Scott, executive-director of Family Services of Central Alberta.

“We want to promote the unselfies” through the social media challenge, she added.

Many local charities are struggling as donations drop during the economic downturn.

David Bouchard, president of the board for Magdalene House, said his group could be helping four victims of human trafficking reintegrate into the community over 12 months, but had to reduce this to two women at a time because of budgetary constraints.

“Staffing is expensive… and donations have not been adequate,” said Bouchard, who doesn’t want Central Albertans to forget about good causes during a bad economy.

Waskasoo Environmental Education Society would love to get more volunteers and funding, “I think everyone’s feeling the pinch,” said program leader Kathryn Huedepohl. Among the other groups looking for support is the no-kill Red Deer &District SPCA, which supports the same number of pets with lower donations, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Volunteer Central, Red Deer College, Red Deer Hospice Society, and Red Deer and District Community Foundation.

“People are hurting. Our files have been growing, but donations have been down,” said Gloria Derksen, of Central Alberta Witness and Support Society, which supports victims of rural crimes. She’s hoping for a reversal this Christmas.

More information about the nation-wide campaign can be found at givingtuesday.ca.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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