WINNIPEG -- While Christmas is still two months away, the COVID-19 pandemic is already forcing one organization to make changes to its operations this year.

The Christmas Cheer Board of Winnipeg announced Tuesday it will not be building hampers for families this year for the upcoming holiday season, but will instead be distributing food vouchers to families.

The reason, according to executive director Kai Madsen, is due to physical distancing requirements and to keep volunteers safe due to the ongoing pandemic. He said it takes several thousand volunteers to pack the hampers with food and toys each year.

"There's really no way that we can sort of bring all those people here in our facility," he said.

Madsen said the organization believed the food voucher was the best way for them to continue assisting families during the holiday season.

But, now the board needs to raise approximately $1 million to help with the food voucher program.

"There is a huge amount of expense, and also there's additional work," Madsen said. "We have to put the envelopes together. And the food vouchers come in varying denominations, ranging from $30 to $100. That means the $100 voucher has to go the larger family, and the $30 voucher goes to the single person, so we have to make sure we get them in the right envelopes, so this is not an easy task."

Applications open up on November 12 and will be open until December 13.

Financial donations are critical for the Christmas Cheer Board this year. They can be made at all CIBC and TD Bank locations, or the organization's warehouse at 947 St. James Street.

The organization said in a news release that the sponsored hamper program, Feed-A-Family, will continue this year, which assigns a hamper family to a business, church, community group, or individual, who then build and deliver the hamper to the family.

-With files from CTV's Jon Hendricks