[Ed note: This article was updated on November 25, 2016]
In addition to financial aid, many charities in the city are struggling to get donations and volunteers to help those less fortunate during the holiday season. Here is a list of some of the charities in Calgary that need your help.
For a more extensive list of Canadian charities to donate to, visit Canada Helps.
What it does: The Alex CFC makes healthy eating more accessible for low-income Calgarians. The centre has community meals, gardening clubs, cooking classes and education programs for kids. It uses food to address problems like social isolation, poor health and poverty.
What it needs: On Giving Tuesday, The Alex CFC will be re-launching its Change Grows Here public giving campaign. Donate money to support the centre’s education and meal programs.
How to donate: Donate funds for the Change Grows Here campaign between now and December 31 online.
What it does: Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids delivers lunches to kids who would otherwise go through the entire school day without it. Christmas is a particularly busy time for the charity, as the season puts added financial stress on families. Currently, it delivers 3,200 lunches per day.
What it needs: Financial donations are always needed and allow the charity the flexibility to purchase items for the lunches that are needed most.
How to donate: All financial donations can be made at bb4ck.org.
What it does: The Calgary Dream Centre is a rehabilitation centre for men and women suffering from addiction and homelessness.
What it needs: Now that sub-zero temperatures have arrived, the Calgary Dream Centre needs financial aid to help keep its patrons off the street. Your donations go towards hygiene items, food and the general upkeep of the centre.
You can also donate goods to the centre, such as winter clothes, backpacks, furniture and non-perishable food items. For a full list of goods that can be donated, visit calgarydreamcentre.com.
Buy tickets for Music for a Winter Evening, the centre’s 16th annual benefit concert, and know that all funds raised support the centre’s programs.
How to donate: Donate money online. Email email@example.com to donate goods.
What it does: The Calgary Food Bank provides food to thousands of Calgarians in need.
What it needs: The Calgary Food Bank needs donations of fresh and non-perishable food items, or monetary donations. During the especially busy Christmas season, the food bank needs volunteers to help run special events.
Non-food items are also accepted here, such as baby items, books and hygiene products. For a full list of non-food related items that are needed, visit calgaryfoodbank.com.
How to donate: Drop off donations at any major grocery store in Calgary or at the Calgary Food Bank headquarters (5000 11 St. S.E., 403-253-2059). Call the office for volunteer opportunities.
What it does: The Calgary Women’s Centre helps women struggling with income, housing and food insecurity access services to have these basic needs met.
What it needs: For two weeks before Christmas, the centre operates a gift room. This year, the Toy Room will be running from December 7 to 20. This is where women can choose gifts to give to their children and pick a gift for themselves, too. The centre needs donations of new, unwrapped gifts for children ages 0 to 18 and unwrapped gifts for the women. Think toys, electronics, clothing and bath accessories. The Calgary Women’s Centre website has more gift ideas for kids and women.
How to donate: Drop off donations at the centre (39 4 St. N.E.). The centre is open Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
What it does: The Drop-In Centre is a shelter that meets the needs of Calgarians who are homeless and suffering from mental health issues, addictions and poverty.
What it needs: As always, the Drop-In Centre needs donations of clothing, furniture, small appliances, person hygiene items and medical items. Financial assistance is always needed as well and this year the Drop-In Centre is making it easier to donate. Text “kindness” to 45678 to make a donation of $5 or $20.
The Drop-In Centre will also be running its Wish List program again this year. It opens on December 1 and Calgarians can visit the site, see all the Christmas wishes and make a wish possible. This runs from December 1 to 24.
How to donate: Donate online or text. Or drop off donations at the centre (1 Dermont Baldwin Way S.E., 403-266-3600, open 24 hours a day or 3640 11A St. N.E. every day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
What it does: EvenStart provides at-risk children ages 3 to 5 with educational, therapeutic, nutritional and nurturing support. At Christmas, they run a hamper drive to help give these children a joyful Christmas.
What it needs: Donations of toys, gifts, candies and basic necessities like clothes, both for children and their parents.
How to donate: Contact EvenStart by calling 403-541-0277 to get involved in organizing a hamper, donating goods or sponsoring a family.
What it does: Inn from the Cold is a temporary emergency shelter for families and individuals.
What it needs: Inn from the Cold’s wish list outlines a number of basic necessities they need during the holiday season and year-round. The list includes hygiene products, kitchen items, clothing, new home supplies (like sheet sets, pillows and dishes) and gift cards.
You can also sponsor a meal or get involved in the annual “Decembeard” fundraising event. Since 2013, Calgarians have been growing beards as a fundraiser for Inn from the Cold’s Holiday Turkey Dinner.
How to donate: Drop off items in person (110 11 Ave. S.E.) or donate finances online.
What it does: Kids Up Front Calgary distributes event tickets to kids and families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy these experiences.
What it needs: Kids Up Front is always looking for tickets for kid-appropriate sports games, concerts or theatre shows. Financial gifts are also accepted.
How to donate: Mail or drop off tickets as far in advance of the event as possible at the Kids Up Front office (110, 105 12 Ave. S.E., 403-444-4318). E-tickets can also be donated via firstname.lastname@example.org.
What it does: Each year, The Magic of Christmas delivers gifts and Christmas cheer to more than 500 families who are suffering from emotional, physical or financial despair.
What it needs: Volunteer to be a Christmas elf. Christmas elves are needed each year to help deliver gifts, drive the buses for home donations, pack up gifts, perform in shows or get involved in publicity. Donations of household items, clothing, toys and electronics, as well as financial gifts, are also needed.
How to donate: Drop off your donations at Santa’s Workshop (6912 Farrell Rd. S.E., 403-803-1619). Visit the website to find a list of alternative drop-off locations, to sign up to volunteer or to make a financial donation.
What it does: Meals on Wheels delivers meals to seniors and other Calgarians who are in need of nutritious food. At Christmas, they deliver a special dinner.
What it needs: Meals on Wheels needs financial donations to purchase the ingredients to make these special holiday dinners.
How to donate: Donate online, over the phone (403-243-2834) or in person (5759 80 Ave. S.E.).
What it does: The Mustard Seed provides food, clothing, housing and support services to adults living through poverty and homelessness.
What it needs: Financial gifts are always welcome and can be donated online. Calgarians can also give the gift of a backpack full of basic necessities like wool socks, toques, scarves, transit tickets, water bottles and Christmas cards with a personal note. For a full list of items that are needed in the backpacks, visit the Mustard Seed’s website.
How to donate: Drop off all donations no later than December 25 at 102 11 Ave. S.E.
What it does: Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary operates 24 hours a day and all year round. The non-profit organization provides long-term programs to help women and girls as young as 16 who have experienced sexual exploitation or human trafficking. Each Christmas SAS runs its Annual Christmas Campaign.
What it needs: Calgarians can help SAS in three ways. Donate money to the SAS Annual Christmas Campaign, contribute to the SAS Christmas Reunion Celebration or buy products for the Stuff a Stocking Program. Products needed right now include diapers, wipes, baby food, bus tickets, deodorant, hair brushes and socks.
How to donate: Call SAS directly at 403-205-5531 for more information on how you can help or fill out the holiday campaign donation form.