What is the Christmas Bureau?
Each year local Waterloo Region non-profits, service clubs and faith groups come together as the Christmas Support Network and coordinate services to help local families and individuals with food and gifts.
The Waterloo Region Christmas Support Network consists of:
- House of Friendship
- The Kitchener-Waterloo Salvation Army
- The Cambridge Salvation Army
- The Cambridge Food Bank
- The Cambridge Firefighters
- Woolwich Community Services
- Wilmot Community Services
- The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
- Food Bank of Waterloo Region
- Family 100
- Sertoma Club
The Christmas Support Network is coordinated by House of Friendship to provide a central registration system for people in Waterloo Region to access support for the Christmas Season.
How to Register in Kitchener – Waterloo
Households will be able to register online starting November 1 at www.christmassupport.ca.
Registration will close when we have reached our capacity. We are expecting to reach capacity before November 30th. If you need help registering, please call the Christmas Support Network team.
When you register, you will receive more information about how you will receive the support you request.
Staff and volunteers are available 9:00 am – 4:00 pm to help assist with registrations Monday – Friday.
How to Register in Cambridge
**The Cambridge Food Bank is not requiring registration for the 2023 Christmas Season. The Cambridge Food Bank will be providing families and individuals with a holiday hamper including a turkey, ham or chicken (Halal chicken is available).
To receive support, come to the Cambridge Food Bank located at 54 Ainslie St., South any weekday in December. The Food Bank hours of operation are Mondays from 12:00 – 4:30pm and Tuesday – Friday from 9:00am – 4:30pm.
You MUST bring your own bags.
If you would prefer and are a larger family of three or more, you can register online starting November 1 at www.christmassupport.ca for a traditional Food Hamper provided by the Cambridge Firefighters. Registration for this program will stay open until capacity is reached. Please note that you cannot receive support from both the Cambridge Firefighters and the Cambridge Food Bank’s Christmas Food Program.
To register for toys please visit www.christmassupport.ca or call the Christmas Support Network team if you need help registering online.
How to Register in Wilmot
Families and individuals can begin registration October 15th. To register, families are encouraged to visit https://wilmotfamilyresourcecentre.wordpress.com/programs-services/christmas-hampers/ or call their main office at 519-662-2731. They have a soft deadline of November 30. Recipients will be provided with instructions on when and where to pick up closer to when the hampers are ready in mid-December. Delivery will also be available.
How to Register in Woolwich
Woolwich Community Services, 5 Memorial Ave, Elmira 519-669-5139 Monday to Friday 9-5pm.
We give hampers to anyone living on a low income in Woolwich Township and Northern Wellesley.
Apply after NOVEMBER 1st by calling our office. We will need proof of residence, proof of income and a piece of identification for all of the people in your household. Options to provide proof will be discussed. Please try to apply before November 30th. Call our office for any eligibility questions or concerns.
Food Distribution for Kitchener-Waterloo residents
For Kitchener-Waterloo in 2023 the House of Friendship like provide a frozen meat item (halal and vegetarian available) and a gift card. The value of the gift card depends on the size of the family.
House of Friendship will distribute meat items and gift cards through delivery or pick up.
Delivery: Deliveries of the gift card and turkey will happen on Saturday, Dec 9 and Sunday, Dec 10 between 9:00am and 2:00pm. A confirmation email will be sent once registration has been completed and received. You will receive a reminder that your delivery is scheduled a few days before.
Pick up: Pickup locations will allow participants to pick up their turkey and gift card in a convenient location. These pickups are available by appointment only between December 11th and 14th.
When you register you will choose the location, date and time that works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I thaw my frozen turkey, ham or halal chicken?
To learn how to thaw your turkey, ham or halal chicken and for more recipes check out our “Recipes” page!
Q: What is included in the Christmas Food Program?
This year each family in Kitchener and Waterloo will receive a gift card and their choice of a frozen turkey, turkey breast (feeds 2-4 people), a ham or halal chicken (vegetarian options available). The value of the gift card depends on the size of the family.
Q: Who can apply?
Anyone who is living on a low income in Waterloo Region and self identifies their need. We will not require proof of income status but optional demographic questions about your source of income will be asked.
*Receiving support from the Christmas Food Program will not impact your ability to receive other supports during the Christmas season such as your weekly neighbourhood food distribution. *
Q: How to register?
You can register by completing the online Christmas Program registration form. In person registration will not be available this year. If you need help with the online form, call 519-742-5860.
Q: How has COVID-19 changed the program?
In previous years, The Christmas Program provided a box of food, a frozen turkey and a small gift card for families in Waterloo Region. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we shifted to gift cards and a frozen turkey to ensure the program could be delivered safely.
Q: I would prefer a food hamper because I have trouble using gift cards, can I get food instead?
Please call the Christmas Support Network and we will work with you to get you what you need.
Q: When is the best time to call for support?
Staff and Volunteers will be available to answer questions Monday to Friday from 9:00 – 4:00 pm. Call 519-742-5860.
Q: I registered but I forgot something, how do I add food or gifts to my registration?
This year you need to register for Food and Toys using two separate forms. If you just registered for one but would like to add the other, simply fill out the other form with your information again.
Q: Do I have to register for everything? Or can I choose Christmas Turkey only? Or only a gift card? Or only gifts for my kids?
Yes. You can register for one or all of the following if applicable:
- Turkey (or other meat item)
- Gift Card
- Toys (Children 15 and under only)
Q: My friend or neighbour wants to register, can I help them?
Of course you can! If they need help, you can assist by filling in the online form with them. It can be found at www.christmassupport.ca. We will be asking for family information during the registration, therefore the applicant should be there with you.
Q: I am a caseworker with a local Social Services agency. How can I help my clients sign up?
Encourage them to fill out the form online or you are welcome to help them fill out the form on their behalf. Be prepared with the names, birthdays, address, email and phone number and preferences of the household. If you have incomplete information we will not be able to complete the registration.
Q: I know a family/person who needs help, can I give you their number and can you call them?
No. They will need to complete the registration form or call us. Please feel free to help them with the registration if needed or have them contact the Christmas Support Network team for more help.
Q: When does registration open and close?
Registration opens November 1st and closes when we have reached our capacity (most likely before November 30th).
Q: I missed the registration window, can I still register for support?
Unfortunately no. Once registration is closed, we are unable to provide anymore turkeys or gift cards. If you are in need of food support, please call the Food Assistance line at 519-743-5576 ext 340.
Q: What do I do if I need to change my appointment time?
Fill out a Contact form on the website or call the Christmas Support Network office at 519-742-5860.
Q: Do I need to apply every year?
Yes. You must apply every year in order to receive support for the Christmas Program
Q: Can I still register if I work full time?
Yes. If you self-identify your need, have a low income, or are in need of food assistance during the holiday season, you can register for a Christmas support.
Q: I am not on OW or ODSP. Can I still register?
Yes. You can still register for the Christmas Program if you are not on OW or ODSP.
Q: I am retired and receiving a pension. Can I still register?
Yes. People on Old Age Pension can apply to receive Christmas Support.
Q: Can I still register if I do not live in the Waterloo Region?
No. We only serve Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge (including Ayr and North Dumfries), Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich. People who live in other cities and towns should apply to their food banks for food assistance.
Q: I forgot where my pick-up appointment is, how can I find out?
Everyone will get a reminder notification before their pick-up time. You may also call the Christmas Support Network team and ask them.
Q: How do I register in Wilmot-Wellesley?
Families and individuals can begin registration after November 1, 2023. To register, visit www.wilmotfamilyresourcecentre.ca, call 519-662-2731, or visit their office at 1-175 Waterloo St., New Hamburg, Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm. They have a registration deadline of November 30. Hampers will be available for pickup or delivery in mid-December. Details will be provided to applicants about any necessary documentation required with their application.
Q: Can I get toys for my kids?
Toys are provided to families with children aged 15 and under. At this time, we are only able to offer toys to the primary parent/guardian. Primary Parent is a term to describe the parent who has the most parenting time with the child(ren) after separation. If there is equal parenting only one registration per child can be accepted at this time.
Q: How do I get toys for my children in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge?
Toys will be available from the Salvation Army. You can schedule an appointment to pick up toys when you register to receive support.
Q: I have my grandchildren over for Christmas/ I know a grandma/grandpa who needs gifts for their grandchildren. Can I get toys for them?
If the grandparents are the legal guardians for the children, yes, the Salvation Army can assist them with gifts. If they are not the legal guardians, no we unfortunately cannot accommodate.
Q: Can I apply for toys only?
Yes. If you just need toys for your children you can apply for toys only. In this case, only fill out the Toy application form online.
Q: I have a mobility barrier can I have the turkey and gift card delivered?
Yes. If you live in Kitchener or Waterloo, you can choose to have your items delivered. You will choose this when you register. If you live in Cambridge and need your items delivered, please contact the Cambridge Food Bank (519-622-6550) to request this. If you need delivery please do not choose to receive a food hamper from the Cambridge Firefighters as delivery is not available.
Q: What do I need to bring with me to pick up my Christmas Food pickup?
Please bring the following:
- A piece of ID
- Copy of confirmation (paper or electronic copy). This was sent to you by email, text or mail when you registered.
Q: Where is the toy pick up location in Kitchener and Waterloo?
Pickups will happen at 75 Tillsley Drive, Kitchener. During registration you will sign up for a gift appointment time. The location will also be provided in the confirmation email after registration is complete.
Q: Where is the toy pick up location in Cambridge?
Pickups will happen at 50 Ainslie Street North, Cambridge. During registration you will sign up for a gift appointment time. The location will also be provided in the confirmation email after registration is complete.
Q: Where are the turkey and gift card pick up locations in Kitchener and Waterloo and Cambridge?
When you register for the Christmas Food Program in Kitchener, Waterloo or Cambridge, you will sign up for your preferred pick-up location or for delivery. Your confirmation email will remind you of these details.
Q: Can I pick up for my friend?
Yes you can pick up items for your friend or neighbour, if they have already registered. Please bring a copy of their confirmation in order to be able to pick up on their behalf
Q: When can I get my Christmas Food?
- Delivery will occur on Saturday December 9th and Sunday December 10th from 9:30 am – 2:00 pm. If you are unavailable during this timeframe, our team will contact you to arrange another time.
- Pick Up times are chosen during registration but will occur from December 11 – December 14 in neighbourhood church parking lots.
- Pick up times are chosen during registration and your confirmation email will have these details. If you have questions about gifts, call the Cambridge Salvation Army at 519-623-1221.
If you have questions about food, call the Cambridge Food Bank at 519-622-6550.
- Hampers will be delivered mid-December.
- Hampers will be ready for pick-up on December 14
For more information on each, please visit the Delivery/ Pickup page.
Q: Who do I contact if I missed my appointment to pick up my turkey and gift card?
Please contact the Christmas Support Network at 519-742-5860.
Q: I have guests for Christmas, can I get food for them?
No. We only provide Christmas support to a person or family who resides with you.
Q: We are two different families or two different individuals in the same address, can we get two separate Christmas hampers?
Yes, if two different households live in the same address, you may register for Christmas Support separately. We define a household as a group of people who generally share meals together.
Q: Where can I get Christmas meals during Christmas time?
There are a number of groups that provide Christmas meals during the holiday season. They are not affiliated with the Christmas Support Network. Have a look at Ontario 211 for information on community meals.
Q: How can I help? I want to donate, volunteer or sponsor a family!
You can help in a variety of ways! Please refer to our How to Help Section for more information.