Toy donations dip in Calgary as recession, warm weather dull Christmas spirit

The Salvation Army says it's seeing fewer toy donations on its shelves this year as the economic slump and the warm fall weather seem to be dulling the holiday spirit.

Shelves at Salvation Army getting bare while 60 per cent more families need help this year

There are lots more empty shelves at the Salvation Army toy warehouse this year. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The Salvation Army says toy donations for Christmas are way down this year, just as the charity prepares to help more families than ever in the Calgary area who need assistance over the holidays. 

"Our shelves are getting pretty thin at this point in time," said Karen Livick, executive director for community services with the Salvation Army.

"Some of that may be the economy and the weather and people haven't quite got in to the Christmas spirit yet."

Castle Toys is also seeing a drop in toy donations compared to last year. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"Usually at this point in time we've packed nearly 1,000 hampers for families and our shelves would be full of those hampers, ready to go out on December 1st. Right now we just don't have the toy stock to keep going."

Volunteers were sent home this week and other shifts were cancelled, says Livick.

The Salvation Army has seen a 60 per cent increase in families needing help this Christmas, compared to 2015.

"People love to donate to the smaller kids, but we're really short on toys for ages 9 and up, and also toys for infants," said Livick.

The Salvation Army isn't alone.

The donation box for Calgary's Toy Mountain campaign, which collects toys for the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, sits almost empty at Castle Toys.

"At this time, you know, we'd probably be at least a week into the campaign and we'd have had that box emptied already once or twice. We have yet to even have a pick up so far," said the store's owner, Nicholas Mason.

Mason agrees the warm weather, as well as the economy, could be playing a part in dulling the Christmas spirit in Calgary.