Both the Salvation Army for the Halifax area and the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank marked successful back-to-school campaigns this year after seeing an increase in demand they say is due to rising inflation.
Now the charitable groups are turning their attention to the colder months ahead and the holiday season as they anticipate more families in need.
"With the major increase we've seen with this back-to-school season, our No. 1 question now ... is how do we aim to be prepared and positioned to serve our community in what will be, no doubt, a record-breaking year for the Christmas season?" Capt. Brent Haas of the Salvation Army told CBC's Mainstreet this week.
Haas said the three Salvation Armies he's involved with — including locations in Halifax, Dartmouth, Lower Sackville and Bedford — saw the demand double this year for its backpack-filled-with-school-supplies program.
A week before school started, the Salvation Army appealed to the public for help and, as of Wednesday, he said they had an extra 30 to 40 backpacks to give out.
"We've had so many children who, when they have been out ... picking up their school supplies, they've been picking up for somebody else who didn't have it," Haas said. "... One little girl said, 'You know, I picked out what I would want.' "
Haas said inflation is having a big impact on the Salvation Army's charitable operations. He said they're seeing higher demand for the food bank and are anticipating more demand for the home heating program.
"I believe we are going to see increases in all of these areas and we're just … so grateful for the outpouring of support. But I believe as a community we're going to need to continue to rally around and continue to support a lot of vulnerable families right now," Haas said.
Like the Salvation Army, the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in Halifax also distributes backpacks with school supplies every year to families who need them.
Denise Daley, the executive director of the non-profit, told CBC on Thursday they met their distribution goal this year — but noted more people applied this year.
The goal was to give 1,000 backpacks, but Daley said they actually ended up giving out 1,243 because of the demand.
"We were able to push it a little bit further based on the donations we got, but we had to cap it," Daley said.
Like Haas, Daley is also looking ahead to the colder months, where she's expecting to see more requests for help. The next big campaign is a coat drive set for October and then after that, the Christmas season.
"Our emergency assistance program, the oil bill, the power bill — we've had an increase in that application as well. People are reaching out to Parker Street for assistance and so we will definitely need more funding for that program because we can only do as much as what is available in the fund," Daley said.
For the emergency assistance program, Daley said this year they're seeing an average of five to 10 applications per day. Last year, Daley estimated those numbers were more like three to six applications per day.
"Inflation is really taking a toll on the community but we're here, we're still trying to help," she said.
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