Fundraising struggles worry Calgary charities

A drop in charitable donations has local Calgary charities worried.

Holiday donations carry many Calgary non-profit groups through the year

Many Calgary charities rely on this time of year to raise money for programs throughout the year. 5:17

A drop in charitable donations has local Calgary charities worried.

Fundraising during December usually carries the Calgary Seniors' Resource Society through the year. The goal is $100,000, but right now the organization has only raised less than a third of that amount.

"It worries me that the dollars are so much lower than they were last year," said manager Anna Sommer. "You know, we've raised about $30,000 and last year we were probably sitting at about $70,000 or $75,000 at this time."

The organization helps low-income seniors find affordable housing, get to medical appointments and pick up groceries.

"We're really hoping that [donations are] still going come in, but we are starting to wonder what's going to happen if they don't."

Susan Verlinden, a volunteer with the organization, said Christmas can be an especially lonely time for some seniors.

"A lot of them don't have family in town, therefore they don't get visits and they don't receive gifts," she said. "Isolation is a big problem."

The organization delivers 300 gift bags during the holiday season to seniors packed with items like shampoo, cookies and socks.

Food Bank also feeling holiday donation woes

Staff at the Calgary Food Bank refer to the days leading to up to Christmas as the beginning of "slam week."

"On an average month we distribute about 4,200 hampers, in December we will see 7,000 go out our door, so the need in terms of food increases almost two fold," said Kathryn Sim.

But the organization isn't getting what they desperately need in donations.

"In the month of December last year we collected 1.8 million pounds of food, right now we're only at 800,000 pounds of food," said Sim.

The food bank also supplies more than 100 charities in the city.

"Normally this cart I can fill it up to about here with stuff," said Kate Hawksworth with the Alex Youth Health Centre.

"And the food bank definitely needs more donations and I think maybe it's tough, right, there's tons of food out there but we just don't think sometimes — maybe people are assuming the food bank is doing fine but they definitely need more donations."

The food bank has a wish list that includes canned goods, peanut butter, and turkeys and chickens for holiday meals.

Wednesday is Blitz Day for the CBC Calgary Suncor Energy Food Bank Drive. CBC Calgary radio programs will broadcast live from the lobby, located at 1724 Westmount Blvd. N.W., while fundraising for the food bank. The goal is to raise $1 million to feed hungry Calgarians.