Charities in the Hamilton region are coming up short this year as people make fewer gift and cash donations than usual.
Earlier this month, CBC Hamilton reported on Children of Christmas Past, a charity that collects and distributes donated gifts for needy seniors in Hamilton and the GTA.
Founder Jill Harrington says there are still about 400 unclaimed tags – each one representing a gift requested by a senior – of the original 3,500 put on trees in businesses throughout the region. People pick out a tag, buy the gifts, and drop them on Harrington's doorstep. Then a volunteer delivers them to senior's care facilities on Christmas Day.
"I almost had a panic attack," she said, describing her reaction when she saw a tree nearly full of tags at Pet Paradise in Burlington.
Harrington says there are still several trees in the region that are nearly full of tags, including ones at the Arbour Creek Long-Term Care Centre in Hamilton, as well as Fresh Co. and the Cedar Springs Racquet club in Burlington. The location of the charity's trees are listed on Childrenofchristmaspast.com.
The requests are not for luxury items, they're from local seniors looking for basic necessities such as soft tissues, a warm jacket, some fruit or diabetic socks. Harrington has never had to say no to a gift request, but she's worried this year might be the first.
She doesn’t fault people for not getting gifts, saying that she knows people in the local community are generous. Harrington says she thinks part of the problem is that the economy is still rough, and many people may be holding off donating gifts as a result.
"Hamilton-Wentworth is known to be a giving community, and so is Burlington," she says. "I have so much faith in our community."
Much like Harrington, the local Salvation Army has also yet to hit its target for donations in the annual Red Kettle campaign.
The local campaign – which covers Hamilton, Burlington and Dundas – is still $190,000 short of its $650,000 target, says Salvation Army spokesperson Gary Brown.
He says while the local Salvation Army is concerned about being well short of its target, it is hoping that donations follow the traditional pattern of an upward spike as the holidays begin.
"The giving builds the closer you get to Christmas," he says.
While campaigns like the Red Kettle benefit from being well known and easy to access, he says he understands how smaller campaigns that are less visible could struggle to get donations.
Jill Harrington says she hopes the personal nature of her organization's seniors-oriented charity will persuade people to make last-minute donations to Children of Christmas Past.
"I think people need to remember this is the one charity where the actually get to pick a person and get them a gift they actually ask for."