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Demand up, funds down for charity organizations

Both the Abbotsford Food Bank and the Salvation Army fell short of their fundraising campaigns this year. -
Both the Abbotsford Food Bank and the Salvation Army fell short of their fundraising campaigns this year.
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Abbotsford’s two main agencies for helping families in need during the holiday season both fell more than $100,000 short of reaching their fundraising goals this year.

The Abbotsford Christmas Bureau and Food Bank collected $411,000 toward its $600,000 objective, while the Salvation Army raised about $372,000 toward its $500,000 mark, as of late last week.

Dave Murray, executive director of the food bank, speculated that people are still reeling from the economic downturn and can’t afford to donate, or contribute as much as they have in the past.

Meanwhile, demand was up. Murray said the organization served about 1,000 more people throughout December than it did the previous year at the same time.

He said clients were coming through the doors right up until Christmas Eve to receive food hampers and kids’ gifts.

“Many people were saying, ‘We tried to see if we could make it through Christmas, but we just couldn’t do it.’”

Many families who register with the Christmas Bureau are sponsored by businesses, schools and individuals who provide them with food and gifts.

But Murray said fewer sponsors came forward this season, putting even more pressure on the food bank to fill in.

He said the agency usually has a good stock of leftover toys to set aside for the following Christmas, but not this time.

“For the first time ever, we have no reserves.

“We’re virtually out of toys.”

Murray said a further fundraising push will be required to help the food bank reach its $600,000 goal, so that staffing or programs won’t have to be cut.

Deb Lowell of the Salvation Army said a similar push will be required for that agency to ensure it can maintain services in Abbotsford-Mission.

She said fundraising is an ever-growing challenge, with people having less to give while demand for services increases.

“It’s always a challenge for us because we want to be good stewards of the money the public gives us, but on the other side, we have a demand that doesn’t stop … Poverty is a huge issue for us, and we have to do whatever we can to meet those demands.”

Another Abbotsford agency seeing a decline in fundraising over the holiday season was Cyrus Centre for at-risk youth.

The centre was $20,000 away from reaching its $100,000 goal, but director Les Talvio hopes that a fundraising event on Feb. 23 will close the gap.

The Coldest Night of the Year Walk, one of 20 taking place across Canada, starts at Sevenoaks Alliance Church (2575 Gladwin Rd.) at 5:15 p.m. Participants can choose from three routes – 2 km, 5 km or 10 km.

Walkers who raise $150 (adults) or $75 (youths) do not have to pay the $25 registration fee.

Visit coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/abbotsford for more details or call Leah at 604-859-5773.

To donate to the Abbotsford Food Bank, call 604-859-5749 or visit abbotsfordfoodbank.com. For the Salvation Army, call 604-853-9305 or visit careandshare.ca.

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