EDITORIAL: Time to shine again

Crucial social service agencies in Abbotsford are still a long way from achieving their Christmas fund-raising goals...

Whether it’s a lacklustre economy, or increases in the costs of living, or higher unemployment rates, crucial social service agencies in Abbotsford are still a long way from achieving their Christmas fund-raising goals.

The Abbotsford Food Bank and Christmas Bureau, the Salvation Army, and Cyrus Centre all provide critical services in this city, and all three are facing significant shortfalls in funding in the coming year if their holiday season donations don’t pick up quickly.

Meanwhile, the demand for the services these agencies provide continues to grow.

The food bank this year has experienced a hike of about 200 families needing support, bringing the monthly total number of people served to as many as 4,000.

The food bank operates as the Christmas Bureau at this time of year, providing gifts and food hampers for families who qualify. It also provides the Sponsor-a-Family program in which registered families can be sponsored by individuals, businesses or churches to receive Christmas gifts.

The local Salvation Army, which serves Abbotsford and Mission, has seen the number of meals served in its centre increase by 11 per cent this year, while the number of “bed nights” of shelter rose 43 per cent. More than 5,000 people are served each month by the Sally Ann.

As of a week ago, the Cyrus Centre had so far raised about $15,000 toward its $150,000 goal.

Cyrus Centre provides hot meals, showers, laundry, life skills, employment coaching, emergency shelter, and more to kids ages 12 to 18. As well, Cyrus House recently opened to provide four youths with a permanent residence with house parents.

Abbotsford has a reputation as a tremendously generous, caring community.

It’s time for residents to shine again.

If you haven’t yet given a donation to one or all three of these important local organizations, please consider adding that to your Christmas to-do list.