Low holiday donations at some city charities could translate into a difficult new year for people in need.

“If we have a difficult December, then that affects our whole year,” said Ray Marshall, chief development officer with Yonge Street Mission. Marshall said holiday donations this year are down as much as 20 per cent.

The mission runs on about $8 million every year, with about $1.8 million of that donated at Christmas in a campaign that wraps up at the end of December.

This year, donations are $400,000 behind. Marshall said the economy might be improving, but it will be a long time before that translates into less need in the city:?“While I appreciate the recession is over, it is not over for the people who live in Regent Park.”

That thought is echoed by Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, who said food bank use in Toronto has gone up by 16 per cent in the last year.

The food bank’s holiday fundraising campaign runs until Jan. 4, with the goal to raise $1 million and 1 million pounds of food. So far, it has collected $800,000 and just more than 600,000 pounds of food.

Linta Loganathan and her mother, Ratneswary, have been using mission services since Linta was a toddler. This year, the 11-year-old picked up a red bicycle at the centre as well as a pink basketball. “I am athletic and I can play with it,” she said, describing her choice.

Linta is involved in the centre’s athletic and dance programs and is a regular at its weekend breakfast program, which her mother occasionally helps run. “I am never bored” at the centre, she said. She and her mother both consider the centre a home away from home.

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