Calgary

The Magic of Christmas matches increased demand with increased donations

The Magic of Christmas, which delivers toys and holiday cheer to those in need in Calgary, said demand is up this year, but so too are donations.

Calgary charity brings busloads of joy (and presents) to the needy and the infirm

Allan Reid, the president of the Magic of Christmas, said demand and donations are up this year. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

The Magic of Christmas, which delivers toys and holiday cheer to those in need in Calgary, said demand is up this year, but so too are donations.

"It's chaos. We have 750 volunteers that will cycle though here. We have 40 transit buses that will load up and go. Also, 7,000 people in hospitals will be visited. So it's just constant chaos, all day long, but it's fun," said Allan Reid, the president of the organization. 

Reid said he figures there are more than a thousand boxes of toys this year, more than the Magic of Christmas has ever needed. 

"We all have big hearts, so we tried not to deny anyone the opportunity. We had to deny a couple, but not a lot," he said. 

The organization, founded in 1983, charters city buses to ferry Santas and elves to all quadrants of the city, visiting homes and those in hospitals and other care facilities. 

Timothy Munroe, who has a total of 8 kids at home, said it's important to bring a bit of joy into the holidays. 

"This year's been hard for us and a lot of other families, so anything that's a little pick-me-up, especially something from Santa for the little kids, they really enjoy it and that's mainly what Christmas is all about," he said as the Magic of Christmas crew descended on his home. 

That happiness is what keeps many volunteers going — and it's what keeps them returning, too. 

"They love it and they'll sit there and they'll talk to you and play with you like you're their best friend and you've known them forever. There's no barrier with anything," said Emily Whitehead, who's a chief elf onboard for one of the buses and is in her fifth year of volunteering.

Reid said the reactions from kids and families ranges from stunned silence to pure joy. 

"There's others where they just sit down and cry because their Christmas has been saved," he said. "That's the best part of it."

With files from Julien Lecacheur