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Toys for Tots Chair Paul Penna and Christmas Cheer Chair Jolene Kemp launch their respective holiday campaigns on November 24, 2023 (Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

2023 holiday campaigns launch

By Adam Riley Nov 24, 2023 | 3:47 PM

Two annual holiday campaigns are now underway and seeking the support of the City of Thunder Bay, Christmas Cheer and Toys for Tots.

As much as she doesn’t want to look at them Christmas Cheer chair Jolene Kemp says the statistics are hard to ignore.

“The numbers are just staggering and it sort of seems daunting. So we look at is we’re going to do everything we can for all of the families that register, that’s the most important thing for us.”

Last year’s campaign saw around 8,000 hampers for families, which is expected to increase this year, the result of rising food prices and inflation.

Kemp says it is a brave step for many to register for a hamper.

“It’s not easy to say ‘I’m not able to make ends meet, I can’t do Christmas. Help me please.’ We’re excited to be able to do everything we can to make things pleasant and happy for each family and make them feel that it is ok.”

This also at times can create a pay it back situation according to Kemp, where those who have received a hamper in the past, have turned around and come to volunteer for Christmas Cheer.

Part of the support for the campaign will be on December 7th and 8th when Acadia Broadcasting’s annual “36 Hours of Cheer” takes to the airwaves to bring in donations  for the cause both online and with a “pop-up” located outside of the studios on Park Avenue.

Other dates to be aware of include the South ward hamper pickup date at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition’s Coliseum building on Tuesday Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., on the following day, Wednesday Dec. 13 registrants in the North ward can pick up their hampers.

Online donations can be made at www.thunderbaychristmascheer.com or at any Thunder Bay Scotiabank.

Donations can also be made by texting CHEER to 344-1953 or 344-8229.

Additionally, the annual Toys for Tots campaign is also now underway.

Paul Penna is with the Thunder Bay Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Chair for Toys for Tots says this campaign has a high importance for him.

“I sound like a broken record every year, but you think back to when you were a kid, I certainly can, and Christmas was always near and dear to our family and to me as a child, and the thought of being a child and not having something under the tree at Christmastime is a terrible thought.”

The campaign Penna says, can have an impact on up to 4,000 or more children.

Donations can be made by visiting the social media page for the Thunder Bay Toys for Tots, which includes a link to the website, there donations can be made in addition in person by visiting the booth run by volunteers from the fire department at Intercity Shopping Centre, which will be open during mall hours for the next month and donations can also be made by visiting a TD Canada Trust bank location.