The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign
Have you ever opened the fridge and stared at the sparsely filled shelves wondering what you were going to make to feed your hungry children?
Or ever worried about paying a utility bill before your service is disconnected? Or buying new clothes for your family because they’re outgrowing their old ones?
Have you ever been given a prescription or a referral for out of town medical services that you really can’t afford so you don’t follow-up with that health care?
Have you ever lived one paycheque away from being homeless?
These are some of the struggles faced daily by vulnerable and marginalized residents in our own community.
Thanks to the generosity of Fort McMurray, The Salvation Army’s Community and Family Services department (CFS) is able to offer practical assistance to those facing such tough decisions.
Some of the funds that help finance the work of CFS are raised during The Army’s annual Christmas Kettle Campaign. This critical fund-raiser began Nov. 18 and runs until Dec. 23.
The goal for this year’s campaign is $200,000 and we only have only five weeks to raise it.
“In consideration of the current economic challenges still faced by our community, we have decided to keep the goal for this year’s campaign the same as last year,” said Major Stephen Hibbs, corps officer for The Salvation Army of Fort McMurray.
“While demand for our services has increased as it does in challenging economic times, we are committed to providing assistance to all those with genuine need.”
The Christmas Kettle Campaign is a critical fund-raiser for CFS. All donations gathered during the campaign stay in Fort McMurray and help fund this department all year, not just at Christmas.
Those funds can help keep a roof over a family’s head or the lights and heat on. Furthermore, they help provide emergency food supplies, pay for a prescription for a senior or provide children’s needs like formula and diapers. They can even pay for a pair of work boots needed for someone’s new job and so much more.
“So you see, that one small act of kindness like signing up to volunteer has a greater far reaching impact to help the vulnerable members of our community,” explains Hibbs.
“How awesome is that?”
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 the Christmas kettles, together with other sources of funds, help provide direct, compassionate, hands-on service to local residents in Fort McMurray restoring hope and dignity to those who might otherwise remain invisible in society.
“Throughout the year, we help individuals and families who are struggling with their rent, security deposit, utilities, prescriptions, work boots, safety courses, and the list can go on and on. We do our very best to meet the genuine needs within our community,” adds Carolanne Sacrey, The Salvation Army family services supervisor.
“We are so very grateful to those who donate during the Christmas season and throughout the year. May God bless you as you bless others.”
Thanks to the generosity of supporters, staff can also help bring the joy of Christmas to families and individuals with food hampers and toys for children.
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2019, CFS had already assisted 3,350 adults and 959 children.
In 2018, the department was able to support 5,205 adults and 1,074 children. That help translated into helping pay over $168,500 in rent arrears and $12,930 for arrears in utilities. Over $7,400 was spent on children’s needs such as diapers, baby wipes and formula. More than $8,990 was spent on food with another $5,778 on food vouchers. Another example is over $6,100 in helping people, including seniors, fill their prescriptions.
This is what funds raised during the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign help CFS accomplish.
“We acknowledge that the times are tough for many in our community; however, we have also seen in the past that when times are tough, our community stands together to support their neighbours,” said Hibbs. “We are confident in our capacity as a community to be there for one another, and that together we will weather this storm."
The Christmas kettles are being hosted this year from 1 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays at Canadian Tire, Michelle’s Your Independent Grocer, Save-On Stoneycreek, Sobeys Thickwood, The Real Canadian Superstore and Walmart. A kettle is also being hosted at Peter Pond Mall 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays plus Dec. 23.
“We extend heartfelt thanks to our host stores. They play a major role in the success of this key fund-raiser. They truly help make it a community initiative,” says Hibbs.
Volunteers are at the heart of this campaign and The Army urgently needs more. That two-hour shift volunteers sign up for ensures a kettle is out in one of the host stores collecting donations.
The Salvation Army welcomes individuals, groups, corporations, businesses, clubs, organizations and teams to support its programs and services by giving their time to volunteer with a kettle in the community throughout the duration of the campaign or just for a day. A sign can even be created for the kettle stand recognizing your group’s partnership with The Salvation Army.
Volunteers are also welcome to wear their company or organization logos.
It’s an easy job: Volunteers simply thank people for their donations and hand out candy canes. Some who have volunteered for the first time on kettles have enjoyed it and mentioned they met friends and colleagues they haven’t seen in years. It’s such a great way to re-connect with people and make new friends.
Those interested in being a kettle volunteer are invited to call Carol Christian, kettle co-ordinator, at 587-646-0981. Volunteers can also sign-up at https://www.woodbuffalovolunteers.ca/need/?agency_id=105185
“We would greatly appreciate your support of The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign,” said Hibbs. “Whether it is in a monetary donation or giving of your time to sit at one of the kettles, you are helping us to help others.”