With just a few days left, the Burnaby Christmas Bureau is still short almost $50,000 in reaching this year's campaign goal.
As of late Wednesday, the bureau's efforts had garnered about $160,000; in all, they need $210,000 to make this year's goal.
Still, executive director Stephen D'Souza says he'll continue to be optimistic, despite the shortfall.
"We're feeling confident - with a bit of extra support, and people digging a little bit deeper, we can still make it," he said.
"We really can." It could be a challenge though, with just four days till Christmas, and bigger demands than ever before.
Since the global economic crisis hit in 2008, the bureau has seen an increase in the families turning to the bureau for help due to job losses but a decrease in the amount of donations coming in, as people scaled back on charitable giving.
The double-whammy left them dipping into their reserves - an emergency fund that had taken a decade to build up.
The bureau, which provides toys for low-income families and hampers for seniors in need at Christmastime, has been operating in Burnaby for three decades.
D'Souza says this year they've started taking a long, hard look at their operations and how they can do things differently given the changing needs in the community.
"What we decided to do this year is really look at our program going forward, what we need to do with a growing clientele - and this is the first year that we've looked at new partnerships, the way we do business, to not just help people right now, but to look to the future. This is a step in the road to improve things and help people get out of poverty, rather than a stop-gap," he said.
For example, they've joined forces with the Computers for Schools and with the Salvation Army to access services and supports for families that registered with the bureau.
As well, the staff at Burnaby Community Connections (the bureau is just one program under its banner) are looking ahead to moving into a permanent office and program space location, thanks to a density bonus program with the City of Burnaby in which developers create community amenities in exchange for increased density in a project.
The organization will occupy the stand-alone building at Lougheed and Rosser some time in the coming year; in the meantime, the group continues to run Meals on Wheels, seniors programs, and a variety of other community services.
"Burnaby Community Connections is giving every day," said D'Souza. "Yes, we put a lot of focus on Christmas time, but really we're here 365 days a year."
Despite being short in the financial goal at this point, D'Souza says he's awed by the generosity of the city.
"Toys have flooded in to us, and donations have been coming in," he said.
"People can help us get that fundraising campaign closed off (at goal) by sending us a cheque or making a donation online - it has a great impact."
D'Souza said he knows people often feel hesitant to donate during times of economic uncertainty, but he encourages Burnaby residents to do just that.
"In tough times, the best safety net is community, it's pulling together, working through the hard times and sharing with each other - that's the best thing for us as individuals, and for us as a community, and as neighbours and friends and family."
To find out more about the bureau this year, see www.burnabycommunityconnec tions.com or call 604-299-5778.