Local charities in need - Metro US

Local charities in need

Essential city charities facing never-before-seen shortfalls in Christmas campaigns are pleading with the public for help.

With only nine days left before Christmas, Edmonton’s Food Bank is short 160,000 kilograms of food and $500,000 needed to reach its holiday goal.

“We only have until Christmas before people start forgetting about us,” Food Bank executive director Marjorie Bencz said yesterday. “This sets the tone for the whole year — 65 per cent of our monetary donations come in this span.”

Despite demand rising 71 per cent from 2008, the Food Bank has only increased its goal by 10,000 kilograms, Bencz said.

The loss of the Bright Nights Festival proved a vital blow to the charity, contributing a 30,000-kilogram hole to the donation shortage.

If goals aren’t met, the charity will be forced to drastically reduce hamper sizes, rather than turn people away.

“Short of food and services, there’s nothing else really to cut,” Bencz said.

Other essential groups aren’t immune to shortfalls, representatives said yesterday.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Karen Diaper says the social services provider is facing similar service slashes if enough donations aren’t collected by Christmas.

“The last thing we’re going to do is turn people away who come for assistance, so we’ll just have to work with the donations we get as best we can,” she said.

The charity needs to raise $195,000 to reach its campaign goal of $450,000.

Demand on the Salvation Army, which provides housing, food, clothing and counselling, has risen 21 per cent over last year.

Christmas kettles are collecting roughly $9,000 per day, though Diaper says $21,000 a day is what’s needed now.

Similarly, the Christmas Bureau is only at 50 per cent of its holiday goal of $800,000.

Organizers are hoping to feed 65,000 less fortunate Edmontonians by Dec. 25, director Dianne Brown said yesterday.

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