Edmonton

Edmonton charity struggling to feed families, give toys to kids

A decrease in donations to the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton could mean about 1,000 families might not get food or toys this holiday season, according to staff.

The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton has changed its application guidelines

More than 20,000 families applied for help from the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton last year. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

A drop in donations to the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton could mean about 1,000 families might not get food or toys this holiday season, according to staff.

The organization has made changes this year to its application process for those who need toys or food hampers, or want to register for its Adopt-A-Teen program.

New this year, the Christmas Bureau is selecting those who can access its programs by using the Alberta adult health benefit income guidelines as a benchmark. Clients are chosen based on household income and other factors, such as home ownership. 

As a charity, we can only gift what we get.- Darlene Kowalchuk, Christmas Bureau of Edmonton

"As a charity, we can only gift what we get," said Darlene Kowalchuk, the bureau's executive director. "We have had to tighten up our guidelines a bit this year, so there has been a bit of a change in the household income levels.

"Unfortunately there are maybe some people that may not get services this year because of that."

Income thresholds used by the organization vary depending on how many people are requesting help and how many children live in the home.

Fewer donations over the last year have forced the organization to look more closely at applicants.

Last year, the charity was $500,000 shy of its $1.6-million fundraising goal.

Kowalchuk said it has been hard to help the roughly 20,000 families the bureau serves each holiday season.

She said the organization has seen about a 10-per-cent decline in donations over the last few years.    

"In the last three years, we've been having a hard time meeting our donation goal, and unfortunately it's resulted in us having to tighten up how we do business," she said.

Staff said they are working with those who are declined aid during the holidays by directing them to other organizations.

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