For 60 years the Red Deer Christmas Bureau has ensured families in need have gifts to put beneath the tree and a festive meal on the table.
“We’re still here. Red Deer is very generous to us. They always make sure we have enough,” said bureau president Teresa Kutynec who has been with the agency since 2004.
She said fundraising is always a challenge with so many organizations that need assistance at this time of year. But there are families who love to shop for toys and donate them to the bureau.
The non-profit started taking client’s applications on Nov. 1 and will accept them for six weeks, instead of the usual five, to stretch out the application and toy shopping process during the pandemic.
“We’ve had some shoppers last week and this week. Now that it’s colder out people are realizing it’s going to be Christmas soon,” Kutynec said.
She said last year Christmas was subdued. This year there are already more decorations in the community and malls, which is really nice to see.
“I think that’s what we need. Society needs some celebration and joy. It’s been a tough year. I think people are really frustrated and I think they need some happiness.”
Last year about 700 children received gifts which was fewer than previous years. Kutynec said the drop was likely due to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
“They were financially doing a bit better last year. But now that CERB is over I think we’re going to find we’re going to be busy. Rent has gone up. Utilities have gone up. Disposable money at the end of the month is getting pretty thin.”
She said demand at bureau has fluctuated with inflation through the years and the availability of jobs in the oil patch. With so many COVID-19 restrictions still in place, finding a job is more difficult.
She said since restrictions have impacted the ability of volunteers to fill hampers, and it’s hard to get large quantities of food, clients will receive gift cards instead of food hampers which will be ready for pickup on Dec. 20 and 21.
For Red Deer Christmas Bureau application information call 403-347-2210.