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November 8, 2005
Millions and millions of gifts later, Christmas Bureau gears up for 2005
More than 92,000 children under age 13, 2,800 youths aged 13 to 15, and
thousands of families received gifts and donations over the holiday season in
2004, through the efforts of the Christmas Bureau, operated by Toronto Social
Services. At a meeting today of the Community Services Committee, Councillor
Joe Mihevc, the Committee Chair, recognized Toronto Social Services, some of
the major partners and the hundreds of community organizations that work
together to make the holiday season special for children in low-income families.

As the Christmas Bureau launches its holiday operations for 2005, the need is
greater than ever. Across Toronto, Statistics Canada estimates are that one in
five families, including one in five children, are living below the poverty
line. It will take the efforts of the entire Toronto community to ensure these
children can share in the joys of the holiday season.

Since 1956, the Christmas Bureau has worked with community agencies and
organizations to co-ordinate the distribution of gifts and donations to
low-income families and children. The Bureau also helps by referring donors to
agencies, sharing information, and monitoring to ensure donor organizations are
not duplicating their efforts.

Toronto Social Services has worked for many years with the Toronto Star, the
CHUM/City Christmas Wish and the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters'
Association, along with many other groups, to distribute gifts. In 2004, 92,899
children under age 13 received gifts, 2,800 children aged 13 to 15 received $25
gift certificates, and over 3,800 families of three people or more received
grocery store gift certificates. As well, in the three days before Christmas,
868 families not previously registered with the Bureau received last-minute
gifts and assistance.

"It's hard to imagine the huge number of children who have benefited from the
Christmas Bureau over the years," said Councillor Joe Mihevc, Ward 21, Chair of
the Community Services Committee. "We're talking millions and millions. It is
saddening to think of so much need across Toronto, and I know we collectively
have a lot of work to do throughout the year to help them look to a positive
future. But at least during the holiday season, Toronto Social Services and its
partners in the Christmas Bureau can send the message that the community still

Individuals and organizations wishing to make donations can call the Bureau at
416-392-3601. Bureau staff will find out what the donation is, and refer donors
to the agency across Toronto that can benefit the most from the donation.

The Christmas Bureau is hard at work getting ready for the 2005 holiday season.
In 2005, the Bureau estimates it will need to reach 100,000 children, including
3,000 youth aged 13 to 15, and 900 families who will need last-minute support.

The Bureau is once again working with its partners to make sure that children
and families across Toronto can experience the hopes and the joys of the
holiday season and know that the community cares.

Media contact:

Heather MacVicar
General Manager
Toronto Social Services



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