Strong support from community needed for Share a Christmas Program to help local families in need

Community Centre 55's 40th annual Share a Christmas Program will help hundreds of East Toronto families in need over the holidays.

Community Centre 55 is going to need the support of local residents as its 40th annual Share a Christmas campaign heads into a second year of dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on families in need.

Share a Christmas traditionally begins its fundraising and awareness campaign at the annual Beaches Santa Clause Parade in late November but that was not able to take place again this year, as was also the case in 2020, due to the pandemic.

“It’s very disappointing to us and the community as it’s a much anticipated event and is a great kick off to the holiday season and our Share a Christmas Program,” said Jade Maitland, Special Events and Volunteer Co-ordinator for Community Centre 55, of the cancellation of the parade for the second year in a row.

For this year’s Share a Christmas Program, there is concern that the need of the approximately 1,000 families being helped may outstrip the supply of help that can be given.

Prior to the pandemic, the program relied on massive amounts of donations of non-perishable food items which made up much of the holiday hampers delivered to families by volunteers just before Christmas.

But as was the case last year, this year’s campaign will not be collecting food donations due to COVID-19. Like in 2020, what is most needed this year from the community is donations of money that can be used to purchase grocery store gift cards.

“Your financial donation will aid in the purchase of Fresh Co. Gift Cards for families, seniors and individuals in need this Christmas,” said Community Centre 55 in a statement. “Last year we assisted over 900 families on our list, which translates to well over 1,200 people. We expect many more will need our help this Christmas.”

Donations of money or cheques can be made in person at Community Centre 55, 97 Main St., by mail or by going online to www.centre55.com and clicking on the Donate Now button.

While food is not being collected, donations of new unwrapped toys and retail gift cards are still being accepted. Stuffed animal toys cannot be accepted this year.

There are also other ways residents can help out this year’s Share a Christmas campaign including joining the Adopt a Family or the Adopt a Senior programs For information on how to Adopt a Family or Adopt a Senior, please call program director Evonne Hossack at 416-691-1113, ext. 222.

Also, Hossack said contributions to the Teen Angel Program for teenaged family members are much needed as that is an age group that is often not thought of given most toy donations are for younger children. The Teen Angel Program is also especially in need of gift card donations in the amounts of $30 and $50 for stores such as SportChek, H & M, Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

While volunteers won’t be needed to sort and pack hampers this month at Community Centre 55, there will be a need for volunteers to help deliver toys on Saturday, Dec. 18, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. All volunteers must be fully vaccinated. For info on volunteering to deliver toys, please contact Maitland at 416-691-1113 ext 224.


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