‘Always a worry for us’: Concerns rising cost of living may impact donations ahead of holiday season

'Always a worry for us': Concerns rising cost of living may impact donations ahead of holiday season
A Salvation Army kettle donation station is pictured in Nanaimo. Nov. 17, 2023.

Local charities are seeing a drop in donations this year, and with the holidays right around the corner, they are concerned that trend will continue into the season of giving.

The Salvation Army launched its kettle campaign Friday morning on Vancouver Island.

The Nanaimo branch is setting up 13 donation pots throughout the city with the goal of raising $280,000 this year.

Yvonne Burrows, a major with the Nanaimo branch, said there are some small concerns that they won’t be able to reach that target.

“Always a worry for us,” Burrows said. “We are dealing with economic issues. A lot of people who have donated in the past are now accessing our services, so that’s a challenge.”

The Salvation Army said the demand for its programs is on the rise, with the high cost of living and increasing inflation rates being major factors.

The organization said this means donations for it’s kettle campaign, food bank and toy drives, like the CHEK Christmas Drive Thru, are more important than ever.

Last year, the Salvation Army had more than 600 families sign up to be able to shop the toys collected at the toy drive.

READ MORE: ‘It means a lot’: Families in need excited to shop for toys collected during the CHEK Christmas Drive Thru

It’s expected a similar number of families, or even more, are expected to sign up this year, so a drop in donations could mean some struggling families won’t be able to celebrate the holiday season.

The Mustard Seed Church Food Bank said it’s seeing a similar trend of increased need and drop in donations.

According to the food bank, the last Hunger Count done in 2022 showed a 15 per cent increase in food bank users compared to last year.

Janice James, with the Mustard Seed, said donations to the food bank have steadily dropped along with the increased need over the last year.

“Everyone is feeling the pinch,” she said. “It’s very expensive to live here, the living wage right now is over $25. So if you are asking people to give food and they are already struggling themselves, it’s understandable that we aren’t going to get as much,” she said.

James says this is a little concerning as we head into December.

She said registrations for the Mustard Seed’s Christmas hampers just opened and they are already almost at capacity.

“Last year it was about 1,200 that we did. I’m going to say it will be that or more this year for sure,” James explained.

Even though times are tough for everyone, the charities hope people will be able to donate where they can, even if it’s just one can of food or a couple of dollars, to ensure everyone can enjoy the holiday season.

Donations to the Mustard Seed Street Church food bank can be made online or by dropping it off at its Queens Avenue location.

The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations at its kettle campaign locations and on its website.

Information on where to drop off toys for the CHEK Christmas Drive Thru can be found here.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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