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‘Shock to the system’: Magic of Christmas in search of new Calgary home after rent increase

A staple charity in Calgary is asking for the community’s help in finding a new home after rent increases forced it out of its current residence.

Courtney Kane has been a volunteer with the Magic of Christmas for 13 years, starting when she was just 10-years-old.

“It means more than you can ever explain to someone in words,” Kane said.

Every Christmas Eve, volunteers load up Calgary Transit buses with hundreds of gifts. Last year they delivered gifts to nearly 3,800 people.

“They tell us how much hope we have given them and how they were at a point in their lives where they didn’t think that they could have a Christmas and we were able to give them one and now they want to give that to other people,” said Kane, who is now the volunteer coordinator with the Magic of Christmas.

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Behind the scenes at The Magic of Christmas

Volunteers with the Magic of Christmas are now packing up from the warehouse space that they used to call home.  They need to vacate by March 31.

The charity had warehouse costs in the south end of the city completely covered through a donation before moving to a location near Edmonton Trail in northeast Calgary.

When that deal ended, they got the current place for $15,000 a month, but the landlord gave them an $8,000 donation every month. That deal came to an end when a new landlord took over.

“It’s quite a shock to the to the system,” said Scott Perley, president of the Magic of Christmas.

He said it’s been hard for the charity to make rent payments of  $15,000  a month, considering they were getting it for free or half price before.

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“We’re flexible. We have a little over 10,000 square feet here and that was tight.  If we want to visit more families, we need more space.  It’s a tough thing because we need a lot of space in October November and December and January and then the rest of the year we really don’t need a whole lot of  space,” Perley said.

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All the Magic of Christmas supplies are in donated storage areas now with the help of Bluebird Self Storage and SecureRite.

The group is looking for discounted rent or warehouse they can rent for only a few months of the year.

“Maybe it means in January we pack everything up and put it in storage again, but for maybe those four months then we have a place to call home,” Perley said.

“It means a different model of operating and we get a little more creative.”

This will be the 40th year of the Magic of Christmas in Calgary.

Last year they visited more than 800 families.

Perley calls his first year volunteering with Magic of Christmas “an amazing experience.”

“You get to share with other people what Christmas means. I can help other people and I told my kids about it and they did it with me the following year, and now they do it with their fiancés as well. It’s Christmas for them. They know that Christmas Eve is with dad and with the Magic of Christmas,” Perley said.

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