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Christmas Cheer Breakfast kicks off the holidays

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The unofficial kickoff to the holiday season started on Friday with the annual Christmas Cheer Breakfast at the Infinity Centre.

CTV's Graham Richardson and Patricia Boal hosted the event, which raised over $210,000 to charity, one of the highest in its 72 year history.

"The need is greater than ever so we are really thrilled to be able to put on the event once again this year," said chair of the Christmas Cheer Foundation, Samantha Hamilton.

The Christmas Cheer Foundation supports local non-profit organizations whose efforts provide assistance and programs to disadvantaged individuals and families during the Christmas season.

The amount of funds that Christmas Cheer is able to distribute is dependent on how much is raised at the Christmas Cheer Breakfast.

This year, there were 28 charities helping those in need to put food on the table this holiday season.

"There are families who are not able to make it through the holidays and not as fortunate as we are. They are struggling to make ends meet and they need a little bit of extra help," said Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

"That’s what this is all about."

The event comes at a time when the rising cost of living is creating more demand than ever for basic necessities.

"We’re seeing more and more families coming to us saying 'We just can’t afford to buy the groceries that we need,'" said Susan Hopkinson with the Caldwell Family Centre.

"This time of year is a reminder and we know so many struggle with this season because they know that they’re not able to celebrate. So if we can provide a bit extra and the families can have that little something to celebrate, it makes a huge difference."

The Christmas Cheer Breakfast began in 1951 with a special broadcast on CFRA radio.

Since then, the Christmas Cheer initiative has grown and welcomed the support of many local organizations and celebrities.

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