Nfld. & Labrador

Single-parent families in urgent need of Christmas help

It could be a lean Christmas for single-parent families this year.

At least 100 single-parent families still need gifts and food donations this year, says N.L association

Elaine Balsam, executive director of the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland, says the organization is in dire need of donations this Christmas. (Paula Gale/CBC)

It could be a lean Christmas for single-parent families this year.

The Single Parent Association of Newfoundland registered families on their holiday assistance list back in October, but the group hasn't been able to collect enough money or gifts to help everyone in need, said executive director Elaine Balsam.

The organization has enough in stock for 200 families, Balsam said, but they're still short — and time is running out.

"We still have another hundred that need help," she said. "We need donations of toys, more so for the older children, eight years and up."

Holiday hampers are lacking, too, Balsam said. 

"We're short on our food gift cards, which provide the Christmas hampers for the single parents — they go buy the items themselves, so it gives them a sense of dignity and pride."

Balsam said the organization isn't alone in scrambling to meet demand this year.

Donations, she said, seem to have decreased across the province.

"I think they're down because of the economy," she said. "Businesses have closed, some have changed their focus in what they donate each year."

Some people are battling layoffs and lowered income, leading to a deficit for other charities as well, Balsam said.

"A lot of us have been in contact and we're finding the same thing."

Gift cards to teen favourites like malls or movie theatres are always a hit, Balsam says. (CBC)

For anyone able to donate, Balsam said gift cards of any kind would be useful, including credit at major grocery stores, fast food joints or the Avalon Mall. 

"Any of those we'd gladly accept, and it would make a Christmas for a lot of our families."

Teen-friendly cards are especially needed.

"They're often the ones that are left out," she said. 

In addition to the registered families, the organization likes to keep enough supplies to help at least 50 more parents dealing with unforeseen emergencies closer to the holidays. 

Families will be collecting donations next week, and anyone wanting to help can make a donation in person at the Single Parent Association office in St. John's.

"Just pick up a gift card, drop in and say hi," said Balsam. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Debbie Cooper and the St. John's Morning Show

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