Christmas Kettle campaign in need of volunteers

Those interested in helping can contact the Red Deer Salvation Army

  • Nov. 9, 2016 5:39 p.m.

With the annual Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign soon to kick off, staff are putting the call out for more volunteers to sign up.

A two-hour shift, with flexible hours, will help the Christmas Kettle Campaign meet the 2016 target of $220,000. There has already been a substantial spike in demand for services, said Major Larry Bridger of the Salvation Army Church & Community Services.

“At every location, you are looking at about four people to volunteer for each day – although once in a while, someone will take a double shift,” he said. So it’s basically four people per location per day – about 40 people per day for the campaign.

“A lot of those folks can do multiple days, but still technically at 10 locations, we need a lot of people,” he said. “We always need those volunteers to help us get through.

“And of course, the Kettle Campaign is vital because really, it supports all of our programs and services that we provide, whether it’s the food bank, or clothing, furniture, our kids’ feeding program, services for seniors, the Adopt-A-Family program (at Christmastime). There is a whole host of things that we help with, and the money is used locally,” he said.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year.”

Last year, the Kettle Campaign brought in just over $234,000 – which marked the best year ever for the campaign, Bridger said. But with the continued sluggish economy, he added that could be a more challenging place to reach this year. Also, the requests for help have increased by about 25% to 30% on a monthly basis over the past year as well.

“Numbers have increased and our costs go up – we’re also increasing the number of children we help through our school feeding program as well.”

Meanwhile, the Kettle Campaign officially launches Nov. 17th with a special event at Bower Place Shopping Centre.

The Christmas season marks one of the busiest times of the year for staff at the Red Deer Salvation Army, with the Kettle Campaign and an array of other events and fundraising initiatives.

This year, kettles will be set up at Wal-Mart (north and south locations), Co-op (Deer Park), Parkland Mall, Bower Place Shopping Centre, Save-On Foods (East Hill), Superstore, Costco and the Independent Grocery Store in Clearview Ridge.

Anyone interested in signing up for a two-hour shift can call Debbie Lang, the Christmas Kettle coordinator, at 403-346-2251.

As for the campaign’s history, it started in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry.

According to the Salvation Army web site, “During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome — funding the project.

“He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England.

“He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called ‘Simpson’s Pot’ into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

“The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, ‘Keep the Pot Boiling.’ He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.”

Again, for more information about volunteering for the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign, call the church office at 403-346-2251 and ask for Debbie Lang.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com

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