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Record number of people accessing Guelph’s Adopt-A-Family program

The Guelph and Wellington Children’s Foundation is seeing a record number of people using its Adopt-A-Family program this holiday season.

The program matches donors with families identified by social-community organizations to provide children with toys and necessary items like boots and jackets. All items are collected through donations and toy drives. Over 50 volunteer elves help organize gifts for the right family. Last year, volunteers contributed over $40,000 in living wage time.

Last year, the program saw a record 1,431 families and young independents adopted by the end of December. Organizers say they already exceeded that number by mid-November.

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“So in mid-November we’re seeing the same number of referrals as all of last year. So we’re seeing that need growing in the community for sure, and we’re seeing a lot of people struggling,” said Megan Harron, program manager for the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington Adopt-A-Family.

According to Harron, about 190 families are still on the adoption list. This is almost double the number of families to adopt that appeared on the list at the same time last year.

“It’s high for this time of year, that’s for sure. That’s why we kind of called out to the community and asked for this call to action, because we’re definitely seeing that number increase,” Harron said.

According to Harron, about 800 donors signed up this year. She said it was less than the 2021 amount.

Toys from the Guelph and Wellington Children’s Foundation should be donated to families in need. (Colton Wiens/CTV News)

This is no surprise to community organizations like Hope House, which has seen a 45% increase in the number of people using its services this year.

“We’re still working with a bigger pool of resources like food and all, but not 45% bigger. So that means people are getting a little less than what they had before,” said Jaya James, executive director of Hope House.

Hope House said they have seen more people struggling with mental health issues, but they are also now seeing a new group of people accessing services

“We are seeing a number of more people coming in who are on fixed incomes or working and before we are able to make it work, but now we are seeing only the rising cost of gas, utilities and rent just made it hard and they’re struggling to make ends meet,” James said.

The Children’s Foundation is always looking for new donors for its remaining 190 families.

Anyone interested can register on the foundation’s website.

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