Salvation Army Kelowna sees surge in demand from families for Christmas

More families, fewer gifts

Thousands of toy donations are piling up at the Kelowna Salvation Army as the charity prepares for their toy room giveaway, giving struggling parents and families an opportunity to pick out a present or two for their loved ones this Christmas.

Toy room coordinator Davina Gilbert says her work hits on a personal level as she herself has been both a child in a struggling family at Christmas, as well as a mother trying to make ends meet at the holidays.

"We have a lot of working families. I have to say the majority are working families, blue-collar families that come through and it’s just the stress of Christmas and the extra money that’s required, it’s too much, so lots of tears on both the shoppers’ part and our guests’ part," said Gilbert.

Ahead of the first day of families being welcomed into the toy room, the Salvation Army is still filling shelves and bringing in toy donations.

Gilbert says parents and families start getting brought in on Dec. 11 through to about Dec. 19.

"We are definitely full until the Dec. 15, but we are booking into the 18th and 19th now,” she said.

With rising costs of living impacting people across the country, the number of people in need this year has doubled, with roughly 1,100 families already registered.

However, the Salvation Army says the amount of toy donations remains the same.

Gilbert says that means each family will likely only be able to select two toys, rather than the usual three.

"We’re hoping we don’t have to go any further than that."

Regardless, Gilbert wants to reassure that each family visiting will get a couple stocking stuffers, knitted goods, children's books and teddy bears.

She said this year the toy room is flush with boy's toys, and fewer for girls.

"Which is shocking because most years it’s our boys that struggle," Gilbert said.

The Salvation Army toy room is always in need of more gifts, so if you’re looking to help a family in need this Christmas, they’re accepting donations all the way up until Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

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