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Cost of living impacting all sides of Manitoba charities


The cost of living and inflation are leading to more people using charities this holiday season, but it might also be impacting those who give to organizations in Manitoba.

The Christmas Cheer Board of Winnipeg started letting people pick up hampers Tuesday, with around 1,000 people taking a hamper home in the morning alone.

Shawna Bell, the executive director, is anticipating they will give out around 19,000 hampers this season, around 700 more than last year.

"So that's a real big indicator to us that the need has increased out there," said Bell. "Every day that we've got our call centre open, I've yet to see a break in the phone lines. It's been constant."

The board relies on donations to help fill hampers with a variety of items from food to toys for kids. However, Bell noted they need more donations to come in as they try to keep up with the increased demand.

"I have to say that a lot of our folks have committed to us that they're going to do for us as they have in the past. But there's a concern about what next year looks like."

It's a similar situation for both The Salvation Army and the United Way, as both organizations are prepared to deal with more people needing help, which leads to the need for more donations.

One of the staples for The Salvation Army is Toy Mountain. Toys are collected for children up to 12 years old. Kristin Marand, the marketing and communications specialist for The Salvation Army's prairie division, said 3,100 families registered to receive toys, meaning they need enough toys for roughly 7,000 to 8,000 children.

Final numbers from the two-day toy drive aren't in yet, but Marand said Winnipeggers showed up and offered support, even people who need support themselves.

"A woman that I spoke with who made a donation to the toy program, she said, 'I'm receiving assistance from a different food program but I have a few extra dollars to buy a few Hot Wheels,'" said Marand. "That was really moving."

While moving, she noted it is concerning to see and hear about the number of people who need help.

"The cost of everything is so much higher than it has been in previous years and folks are facing really difficult decisions."

Marand also pointed out that the area The Salvation Army is struggling with the most is the annual kettle campaign.

There is a goal of $300,000 for Winnipeg, but they have only reached 22 per cent of that target with less than 20 days to go. Marand said the main reason for this is a lack of volunteers.

"In terms of our kettle volunteers, we still have about 70 per cent of shifts available for volunteers."

Over at United Way, Kristie Pearson, the 2023 campaign co-chair, said donations have been steady since September, but the trend lately has been fewer donations from fewer donors.

"Inflation is definitely playing a role on both sides. I feel that it's playing a bigger role on the need side," said Pearson.

She said there are more people than usual needing the food bank who haven't reached out in the past.

"One in four people using the food banks right now have a job. They just don't have enough money left over at the end of their paycheque for both bills and food. So that is a challenge."

When asked what advice they would give to someone who is still thinking of donating even though they might not be able to do as much as they usually do, they all said to do what they can, no matter the size of the donation.

"Our community works best when we're working together…I believe that even $1 or one kind of food makes a difference to somebody," said Pearson.

"Anything that can be spared, it will go right back into the community to help and I think that gives people some reassurance as well," said Marand.

"If folks are able to give us a little bit, we can turn that into a lot…just know that every little bit helps," said Bell. Top Stories

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