Some P.E.I. charities seeing increased demand this holiday season

·2 min read
The pandemic, the cost of housing and layoffs are causing an increase in demand for some Island charities.  (Laura Meade/CBC  - image credit)
The pandemic, the cost of housing and layoffs are causing an increase in demand for some Island charities. (Laura Meade/CBC - image credit)

As the holidays draw closer, some charities on P.E.I say they're seeing double the demand of years previous.

Betty Begg, president of Gifts From The Heart in Charlottetown, one of many groups which help low-income people over the holidays, said she sees five new clients every day.

"The need is great. It's greater this year than it's ever been.... There's more people without jobs. There's more people that have been evicted," she said.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

She expects to help about 800 families this year — that's almost double from last year.

But it's not just families who are in need, said Begg.

She said they've seen a "big increase in students from Holland College and UPEI reaching out to us."

Wyatt McAskill, 6, and his mom have been selling Christmas wreaths to raise money. They took the proceeds and bought toys to donate to Gifts From The Heart.

His mom, Ariel Gogan, volunteers with the organization.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"He just wants to make kids smile and make sure they have toys," Gogan said.

Santa's Angels, a group that also collects toys for Christmas, expects to help thousands of people this year, co-founder Kenny Zakem said.

"People shouldn't be embarrassed or feel like less of a person to look for help from us. Everyone goes through hardships. I's not a big deal. We're here to help," he said.

After the pandemic hit, they saw an uptick in demand. Zakem said with layoffs from potato processing plants, they expect that demand will only grow.

"On Christmas Day, some people are the loneliest and need the most.... We're just trying to provide that."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

But not everyone is seeing as dramatic an increase. Lt. Kyron Newbury of the Salvation Army said they're seeing about the same numbers as last year. But they know the pandemic has been hard on people.

"There's a lot of families playing catchup. Even those who got jobs back, now, they have credit card bills, loans and things, they're still trying to get back on their feet fully," Newbury said.

In an increasingly cashless world, The Salvation Army has modernized their famous red donation kettles, Newbury said.

"We finally have tip-tap, so you're able to donate five, 10, or 20 dollars and it comes right off your card. It's really easy."

All of the charity groups said they're still hoping for more donations and volunteers this holiday season.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting