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November 5, 2007
City of Toronto is making a difference at Christmas
For over 50 years, staff from the City of Toronto have worked to ensure that as many low-income families as possible receive gifts during the holiday season. In 2006 alone, over 114,000 children under the age of 13 received gifts, thanks in part to Toronto Social Services’ Christmas Bureau.

Acting as a central coordinating body, the Christmas Bureau helps to connect donors with Toronto families and individuals in need, many of whom are on social assistance. Staff work directly with a wide variety of organizations, ranging from community agencies to major corporations, including the Toronto Star, 1050 CHUM, the Fire Fighters Association and the provincial government to help coordinate donations, make referrals, share information, monitor for duplication and provides reassurance to donors that their contributions are making it into the hands of the people who need it most.

The City’s 2006 Christmas Bureau coordinated the distribution of gifts and donations to 108,598 children, under the age of 13 from low income families in Toronto. An additional 6,042 children received toys in the three days before Christmas through the “Last Minute Emergency Referral Program” which was jointly established by partners to assist families not previously registered with an agency.

In 2006, the Christmas Bureau helped:
(1) 79,308 children who received assistance through the CHUM/City Christmas Wish;
(2) 25,598 children who received Toronto Star Gift Boxes; and
(3) 9,283 children who received toys from the Toronto Firefighters Association.

The Christmas Bureau also helped to distribute over $250,000 in Hudson Bay Company (HBC) gift certificates and grocery store gift certificates, donated by CHUM/City Christmas Wish. HBC gift certificates valued at $25 each were distributed to 4,043 children aged 13 to 18, and 4,562 families of four or more receiving support from Ontario Works (OW) were given grocery store gift certificates.

“One of the great strengths of Torontonians is their willingness to help others,” said Mayor David Miller. “Residents can demonstrate this by participating in the many toy and fundraising initiatives across the city. The success and longevity of the City's Christmas Bureau is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when people across Toronto come together.”

With the holiday season just around the corner, the Christmas Bureau is bracing for another tough year, with many families in need of help. The Christmas Bureau will once again, be looking to programs like CHUM Christmas Wish, The Toronto Star’s Santa Claus Fund, the Toronto Firefighters and numerous community agencies to help meet the demands. But all of these agencies are relying on the generosity of Torontonians to ensure that no child is forgotten during the 2007 holiday season. As campaigns for 2007 begin, people can help by donating new, unwrapped toys, or by making a donation.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Darrin Vermeersch, Toronto Social Services, 416-397-5518,



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