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Holiday Guide

The Interview, with Major Stephen Hibbs

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During the holiday season, it’s hard to miss the bright red kettles at the grocery stores around town. To get a little insight into the work of the local Salvation Army and their Red Kettle campaign, we went not to Santa Claus, but the other jolly guy it’s hard to miss during the Christmas season – Major Stephen Hibbs with the Fort McMurray Salvation Army.

Q: Tell us about the red kettle campaign in 2018. Do you have a goal?

The Salvation Army Fort McMurray Christmas Kettle Campaign is our largest and most recognizable annual charitable events. It runs from November 17 to Christmas Eve. In addition to the critical fundraising impact of the Campaign, the Christmas Kettles boost the Army’s visibility and awareness in our community.

For many, the Christmas Kettles are their only point of contact with The Salvation Army all year. According to public opinion polling, more than half of all Salvation Army donors list “giving to a Christmas Kettle” as their primary method of giving to The Salvation Army.

Our goal for 2018 campaign is $200,000. All funds raised stay in our community.

People typically stand by a kettle for two hours at the following locations:

  • Peter Pond Mall
  • Superstore
  • Walmart
  • Canadian Tire
  • Sobeys in Thickwood
  • Michelle’s Independent in Timberlea
  • Save-on-Foods in Eagle Ridge


Q: What do the funds raised from the generous people of Wood Buffalo provide in the community?

The seven kettle locations across our city support a wide range of Salvation Army programs, such as: Community and Family Services Christmas support program, Community and Family Service needs throughout the year, (food and clothing, back to school backpacks, assistance in emergency medical cost, emergency assistance in rent and housing cost, etc,) Community Response Vehicle ministry to the homeless food and clothing. 

For many, the necessities of life needed for basic human dignity are out of reach.  Poverty is the root cause, making access to everyday needs, like food, clothing and shelter, difficult.

Funds raised through donations made at Christmas Kettles, together with other sources of funds, help provide direct, compassionate, hands-on service to our citizens yearly in our community, restoring hope and dignity to those who might otherwise remain invisible in society.


Q: What's your favourite part of the work you get to be a part of in the region?

It has got to be meeting and conversing with the most awesome people in the world. Listening to their stories of challenge and victory.  Listening to people share about how The Salvation Army has helped them in their time of need.  Also, to hear how this community has been a super place to live and work and raise family.  You just gotta love these kinds of conversations. I (we) just love meeting people.  We (my wife and I) don't just like what we do, we absolutely love what we do. Just sayin.


Q: What else does the Salvation Army do for our region throughout the year?

We offer a wide range of programs: Thrift Store Services, Emergency Shelter, MAT Shelter - shelter for homeless persons, Soup kitchen, Community and Family Services, Community Emergency Services, Street ministry through our emergency response vehicle, Housing First programs, START programs for persons with physical challenges, church services & pastoral support.


Q: What's your favourite part about Christmas?

Spending time with family and sharing in a Christmas Eve Service. Handing out gifts to people in the hospital and seniors homes. Seeing everyone in the Christmas giving spirit and remembering Jesus as the reason for the season.


Q: Do you have any fun traditions as a family?

We have a countdown Advent calendar.  We have fun with Elf on the Shelf.  Several letters are written to Santa Claus from our grandchildren.  Grandchildren help decorate the Christmas tree and we finish with hot chocolate for everyone. We go Christmas light seeing through our city.  Christmas baking is a favourite thing as well. And of course, we always have our family Christmas dinner.  As a family we are always happy to give back by helping or volunteering to help where and when we can.


Q: What is your favourite Christmas song and why?

It's got to be Silent Night. This song brings me back to a quiet Christmas mood. I love the Christmas smells of cooking, the Christmas tree lights, the warmth and cheeriness of people, the people talking and yelling. Its beautiful melody and words truly capture why we celebrate this awesome wonderful season.  It's all about the birth of our Saviour.


Q: Tell our readers how they can get involved and help!

We welcome individuals, groups, corporations, businesses, clubs, organizations and teams to support Salvation Army programs and services by giving your time to host (stand by) a kettle in our community throughout the duration of the campaign or just for a day.  A sign can even be created for the Kettle stand recognizing your groups partnership with The Salvation Army.  For more information on volunteering as a kettle host please contact our Kettle Coordinator, Karen Petten at one of the following:  Phone 587-646-0981 or email We thank-you for your continued generosity!


Be sure to pop by one of the Red Kettle locations!


Kerri has always enjoyed a good story, and favours jotting them down on paper where her thoughts become way more organized. She has always called Alberta home, and delights in the tales that come from there. In her free time, Kerri daydreams, rides bikes, goes on long walks, and cries over videos about dogs. She also donates her time to raising two pretty fantastic kids who call her "mom".