With two weeks left to go, Salvation Army Peterborough’s Christmas Assistance Program facing shortfall due to high demand

Organization seeking donations of high-demand items like mittens, as well as games, puzzles, and toys for older children

A young boy wearing a hat and mittens in the winter. (Stock photo)

The Salvation Army Peterborough’s Christmas Assistance Program, which helps those in need put food on the table and toys under the tree this holiday season, is facing a shortfall due to a surge in demand with more than two weeks left in the program.

Since registration opened on November 20, more than 2,000 individuals and families have signed up for the program. With registration closing on December 15, there are more than two weeks left in the program and donations have slowed.

By appointment only, registered applicants can visit the Salvation Army Temple at 219 Simcoe Street to receive a grocery store gift card for an amount dependent on their family size. Families also have access to a toy shop set up in the gymnasium where they can choose toys and stocking stuffers for children and youth under 18.

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“We’re seeing more community service and general applicants,” says Billi Balment, community family services supervisor at The Salvation Army Peterborough, in a media release. “In the past two years, there’s been an increase in single people seeking help in the latter half of the program.”

Families visiting the toy shop have shown a high interest in practical items like hats and mittens, in addition to toys and puzzles.

“We ran out of mittens last Thursday,” Balment says. “I bought 200 more, and they were gone by Friday.”

She says the Salvation Army Peterborough has a plan to deal with the expected demand for the remaining two weeks of the program, “but public support is crucial this year more than ever.”

The organization is currently seeking donations of mittens, games, puzzles, toys for ages nine to 13, and teen toiletry sets.

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“There’s still time to help — we have the Christmas parade this weekend where food and toy donations can be made,” Balment says, referring to the Peterborough Santa Claus parade on Saturday afternoon (December 2) “Volunteers from Country 105 and Move 99.7 and Chemong Home Hardware will be on hand to collect them and bring them to the church on Saturday.”

Toy and mitten donations are also accepted at the church doors on Simcoe Street.

While monetary donations are still coming in for the Christmas Assistance Program, Balment says they have slowed after an initial surge since the launch of “Hope for All Seasons” fundraising campaign in late October. The campaign aims to raise $540,000 through a mail-out fundraiser and $110,000 at Christmas kettles across the city.

Monetary donations can be mailed to 219 Simcoe St., Peterborough, ON, K9H 2H6, or made in person and at kettles across the city. Donations by phone can be made by calling 705-742-4391, ext. 257.