To help meet the demand for Christmas hampers, the Thunder Bay Christmas Cheer fund is extending the deadline for food donations until noon on Tuesday.

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Thunder Bay Christmas Cheer Fund organizer Linda Gambee says many more donations are needed to help put together this year's hampers. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Chairperson Linda Gambee said a last-minute blitz over the weekend helped bring in about $40,000 in food and cash, but the fund still doesn't have enough for all the families on its list.

"The demand this year is a lot higher," she said.

"The growth areas this year are for people who are actually working but they're not making ends meet. So they're making minimum wage, but they still have a family of four to feed."

The increase is also partly attributable to victims of the flooding in Thunder Bay last May.

Gambee noted there are about 700 more people — for a total of 6,700 — needing help this year.

Where can you donate?

  • People can drop off food donations at the CLE Coliseum building until noon on Tuesday. Christmas Cheer fund chairperson Linda Gambee said food items most needed now include baby food, crackers, canned fish (like tuna) and desserts.
  • People can make cash donations there until Wednesday at 7 p.m.
  • People can also make cash donations at any Scotiabank branch, anytime, right into the New Year. 

But donations have been lower than in previous years. So far, the Christmas Cheer Fund has raised about $100,000, but its goal is $165,000.

"Every year I say it's really slow," Gambee said. "This year it's even slower than ... last year.  It's a lot going on in the community, a lot of charities at this time, a lot of people in need."

Registration for the program closed on Friday and was open to people living at or below the poverty line.  

Each Christmas Cheer hamper includes a turkey, instant mashed potatoes, fruit, candy and toys for children, as well as several other items.