OTTAWA -- An organization in Ottawa’s east end is counting on the generosity of the community to help ensure food is on the table and gifts are under the tree for hundreds of families this holiday season. 

"We’ve had an increase in numbers for the Christmas program this year," said Nicole Perras, the food bank coordinator at the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre. "We’ve had numbers we’ve never seen before."

Last year, the centre’s Christmas program assisted 952 people, including 410 children. This year that number has jumped to more than 1,050.

With just weeks to go before Christmas, the centre’s two programs that provide food and gifts to families are both tens of thousands of dollars away from their respective fundraising goals.

“Donations are still coming in, a little bit slower than we saw in the past,” said Carla Colonna, the centre’s communications coordinator. "There’s a lot of people in the community that I received calls (from) say they had reduced hours at their work but they still want to give back, maybe not to the same amount they could do last year but they still want to give back."

The Christmas program campaign set a goal of $70,000, while the Angel Tree gift program goal is set at $15,000.

For its Angel Tree program, donors would typically be able to purchase toys from a child’s list but with the pandemic the centre is instead asking for cash donations that will allow it to purchase $25 gift cards from Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Amazon and Walmart. Each child will receive $50.

"I’m asking the community to support their local food bank by donating either money, gift cards or even food, we do accept food but it makes it harder because we have to quarantine the food before we put it into circulation," said Perras, adding she’s hopeful the community will come through to help those living in their neighbourhood.

"We’re going to need the community’s help to bring us through the Christmas season but also after the New Year to help us feed all the increase in the number of people that are coming to the food bank," said Perras.

The centre’s catchment area includes Orléans, Cumberland, Sarsfield, Navan, Vars and Carlsbad Springs.

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