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CFAX Santas Anonymous sees drastic drop in donations amid cost-of-living crunch

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The phones at the CFAX Santas Anonymous workshop never seem to stop ringing.

“The applicants have received an email from us and now they are phoning in to make their gift ideas for their children,” said Angela Oakley, a volunteer with CFAX Santas Anonymous.

The Christmas charity provides 1,200 hampers to families consisting of two toys per child, a $100 food gift card and three bags of groceries designed to help families through the Christmas break.

The demand this year is unlike any year the non-profit’s executive director Christine Hewitt Goodsir has ever seen.

“We reached that capacity within 24 hours, which shocked all of us,” said Hewitt Goodsir.

Adding to the unprecedented demand, this year's charitable donations are down 62 per cent from the same time last year.

“Basically we’re looking to raise over $500,000 in the coming weeks,” said the Hewitt Goodsir.

That is where a corporation has stepped in.

“I don’t remember having to do this in my life here,” said Cheryll Dickson, a Tim Hortons restaurant manager for the last 15 years.

For the first time ever, Tim Hortons is running a holiday version of its Smile Cookie Campaign.

Twenty locations on Vancouver Island will be selling the tasty treats with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to CFAX Santas Anonymous.

“Some people say, 'Oh it’s just a cookie.' It’s not just a cookie. That cookie will bring food to the table of somebody,” said Dickson.

It will help but it won’t be the silver bullet Santas Anonymous needs right now.

John Bromley is the CEO of Charitable Impact, an online platform that allows its users to manage their charitable giving through a single account.

“Times are tough,” said Bromley. “Charities should be expecting lower donations through this giving season.”

Bromley says there are two types of donors: fair weather donors and committed reliable donors.

“The fair weather donors among us are less likely to give and then we’re reliant on a smaller pool of very reliable donors and they feel more pressure,” said Bromley. “They actually can’t keep the whole system afloat.”

As the phones in the workshop continue to ring, volunteers at CFAX Santas Anonymous are doing their very best to make as many Christmas wishes come true.

“We are determined but just like the community has to lean on us, we need to lean back to donors and on the community for help to make this happen,” said Hewitt Goodsir.

Because 1,200 families are relying on Santas Anonymous this Christmas season. Donations can be made at the CFAX Santas Anonymous website.

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