The Red Deer Christmas Bureau is expecting the number of applicants for assistance to surpass last year’s record-setting numbers.
“We’re definitely up for applications already this year,” Christmas Bureau president Teresa Kutynec said Wednesday.
They’ve had 416 applications so far, involving 711 children so far. That’s up up 32 families from this time last year, she said.
In 2015 overall, the Christmas Bureau received 1,237 applications, involving 1,345 children.
“We’re getting a lot of new people that have never applied before. It’s a bit scary because we do have a lot of regulars too that always need help every year. It’ll be a big year,” Kutynec said.
While people are slowly going back to work in a downturned economy, she thinks they just haven’t got ahead yet. People are not getting much overtime so “It’s not enough.”
The bureau will need between $150,000 and $175,000 this year in cash donations to keep the basics going, Kutynec said.
Every child gets about $200 worth of items that includes toys, mittens, tuques, gloves, pyjamas, games or puzzles and books. As well, each family gets a hamper of food worth about $100. The Christmas Bureau buys the food for the hampers.
Last weekend’s first Christmas Wish Breakfast was “fantastic” with about 625 people bringing donations of toys, gift cards or money. The new event was aimed at bringing in new donations for local Christmas charities, including the Christmas Bureau.
“People were very generous,” said Kutynec, who was one of the volunteers at the breakfast.
To apply for help from the Christmas Bureau, people need to go there in person. They should bring their Alberta Health cards, proof of address, proof of income such as a pay stub, or cards if they are on assistance. New this year because many people are receiving more money from the child tax credit, the the bureau also needs to see a one-month bank statement that shows deposits. Applications are being received until Dec. 15.
People who want to donate can drop by the bureau, or go online to CanadaHelps.org and search ‘Red Deer Christmas Bureau’ to make an donation online.
The Christmas Bureau is located at Bay 15, 7428-49 Ave., and is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.