The Outreach Centre fund development officer Darcy Ouellet holds some donated baskets that will be included in Christmas hampers being distributed this year.

Red Deer charities need more donations to provide for more clients

Need for Christmas hampers is more acute in this year’s tough economy

Local charities are hoping for an outpouring of community generosity to help meet rising demand for Christmas hampers.

“I love Central Alberta — whenever residents see a need, they step up to help fill it,” said Darcy Ouellet, fund development officer for the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach.

This year, the Outreach has 105 single-parent families requesting help — that’s 10 more than last year on its list for food and toy hampers. At the same time, fewer sponsors have signed up to “adopt” families.

“Some of the (business sponsors) from last year just aren’t around anymore,” said Ouellet.

He believes the community will still come through, noting $100 will provide for each single parent and $125 for each child. “We’ve never had to turn a family away.”

Donations can be made this weekend to the RCMP CheckStop toy program, Only Women’s Fitness toy drive, and Sylvan Lake’s Trilliant Real Estate charitable tree sale (More information from

Meanwhile, the Family Services of Central Alberta plans to launch a fundraising/sponsorship campaign for its hamper program next week, with help from partner, Red Deer radio stations Real Country 95.5 and Z 98.9.

In the past, they’ve had a month to raise donations for client hampers. But this year, the radio stations’ other charitable event, Stuff-A-Bus, for the Christmas Bureau, is running into December. (It’s on this weekend, from Friday to Sunday at Parkland Mall.) That means there will only be two weeks to collect donations for the Family Services of Alberta hamper program.

Travis Kuschminder, assistant program director at Real Country 95.5, hopes public awareness of the greater need will keep donations at least at 2015 levels.

Last year, 95 hampers were given out. This Christmas, executive-director Judy Scott is seeing many new clients — including some who have never before needed help. She’s hoping to make as many or more hampers as in 2015.

She notes it costs about $200 to fill a hamper with food and staples for a family of three or more, $150 for two people, and $100 for a single person.

The Red Deer Food Bank has also had a significant increase in clients, particularly children, and is accepting donations of food and cash.

Ouellet said the local charities share a “master list” of families they are helping to avoid duplication.

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