If you are considering making a donation to help those in need it’s important to do some research. Around Christmas, organizations have different goals that affect who they’re focused on helping and their donation needs.

Providing less fortunate children with toys during the holiday season warms the heart, which is why some anti-poverty groups like The Salvation Army make this their focus around Christmas. Karen Livick says their main push for the holiday season is toy hampers. 

On Dec. 5, The Salvation Army announced they are desperately in need of toy donations. Karen Livick, the executive director of The Salvation Army in Calgary, says they are less than halfway through their goal of providing toy hampers to 3,000 families.

“We’re actually having to stop packing some hampers because we just don’t have the items to provide to the kids,” says Livick.

Popular items to donate are remote control vehicles, Lego, science experiments, art kits and jewelry making kits. Livick adds that gift cards are also a great choice.

Donations can be dropped off at The Salvation Army warehouse 4420 75th Ave. SE, or any Toy Angel donation spot. Some locations include Marlborough Mall, Market Mall and Calgary Police Service locations.

Drew Gusztak, the volunteer services manager at The Mustard Seed, says they are less concerned about toys, as they have more pressing needs in their work with homeless clientele.

Gusztak oversaw the charity’s toy drive Dec. 2 at the Winter Magic event at Eau Claire Market that also featured live-singing, ice sculpting and wagon rides.

“Toys are so romantic to give and children are so easy to give to, but what would happen if everyone started giving toys instead of food or hygiene products?” Asks  Gusztak.

Gusztak says the only time Calgarians will see The Mustard Seed in Calgary advertise for toys this year is at the Eau Claire event. That way, the charity avoids losing other more crucial donations, like hygiene products and food.

“We don’t want to become a toy company. We want to be a company that helps people in their basic and quality needs,” he says.

If The Mustard Seed does not receive enough toy donations, Gusztak says the charity has a list of other donors and businesses willing to help meet the quota.

While The Mustard Seed booth at Eau Claire Market accepted both cash and toy donations, visitors were also invited to write a positive message on a coffee sleeve. The sleeves are to be handed out with coffee at the shelter to help inspire hope and positivity.

Like other anti-poverty groups, The Mustard Seed can always use any cash donations to buy the most critical supplies, such as food, blankets and toiletries.

Zenaida Etheridge, a volunteer with The Mustard Seed, says they serve coffee at breakfast, lunch and dinner to around 350 people who stay at the shelter. The shelter has a capacity to house 370.

The one-day toy drive resulted in 70 donations, mostly stuffed animals, for children between the ages of two and 12.

The Mustard Seed plans to couple toy donations with their food hamper with the goal of serving between 800 and 1,000 low-income families.

Individuals who are interested in making a donation to The Mustard Seed can drop items off at the downtown support centre along 11th Avenue in southeast Calgary between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Donations can also be dropped off at the Foothills shelter in southeast Calgary anytime, day or night.

Charity Intelligence Canada ranks charities based on transparency, accountability and what portion of money is actually spent on the cause. Their top 100 charities list includes three Calgary charities that work at combatting homelessness:

  • Calgary Drop-In
  • Calgary Homeless Foundation
  • Inn From The Cold

Editor: Andi Endruhn | aendruhn@cjournal.ca

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