With inflation leading to families struggling to pay the bills, Innisfil, Ont.’s Christmas for Kids toy drive organizers say more people in the community need a little extra help from Santa this year.
On Tuesday morning, the Town of Innisfil and Christmas for Kids organizers kicked off their 2022 Toy Drive, with all the proceeds going to help local families.
Myrlene Boken, president of Innisfil’s Christmas for Kids, said they are currently serving 522 people, which includes 170 families.
Since the end of pandemic relief benefits, Boken said they have seen about a 20 per cent increase in people accessing their services.
“When the government assistance was happening, families were kind of coasting, but now that all that has ended and now we’re dealing with inflation, there’s been a huge increase,” she said.
She said their warm clothing program, which used to cost around $10,000, will cost close to $20,000 with the increased need.
Boken said a lot of families are having to take time off work to take care of sick kids, which is also making money problems worse as the cost of living goes up.
“They’re all saying the same thing: they’re just really, really struggling and that what our programs do is that helps them free up cash flow for their rent or utilities. So if we’re helping them pay for Christmas or even the warm clothing program or Thanksgiving, it then frees up cash flow they can use for rent and utilities,” she said.
Christmas for Kids was first started in 1996 by a local school principal to help children living in poverty, and the charity now helps local families year-round.
Boken said they are looking for toys for all ages and genders, including Lego and books.
“We are looking for basically whatever toys your children are asking for, our children ask for,” she said.
She said donations can be dropped off at participating local restaurants, or cash donations can be made online.
This year people can also go online to the C4K website and buy a specific toy on a child’s wish list, which will be sent directly to the charity to be delivered in time for Christmas.
The toy drive will run until Dec. 19, but people can still make donations after the fact, which will be used for any families who register for help last minute and for them to hand out throughout the year in other programs.
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