From left, Major Elaine Bridger of Divisional Headquarters in Edmonton and Majors Marilyn and Larry Bridger of the Red Deer Salvation Army pose for a photo following the launch of the annual Christmas Kettle Campaing kick-off. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Salvation Army launches annual Christmas Kettle campaign

This year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign goal is $240,000

A familiar and traditional site this time of year, the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign is underway in the City.

“The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign is a very important part of the Salvation Army’s fundraising every year. In fact, it’s our largest fundraising venture,” said Major Larry Bridger during the kick-off event at Bower Place.

The event also included music courtesy of the Corey Brothers and remarks from City Councillor Tanya Handley, who also made the first official donation to launch the campaign.

This year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign goal is $240,000, with the campaign running through to Dec. 22nd at 10 locations around Red Deer including Bower Place, Parkland Mall, Deer Park Co-op, Save On Foods East Hill, Canadian Tire South, both Walmart locations, Superstore, the new Timberlands Co-op and Costco (the final few days of the campaign).

“People in Red Deer are very, very generous and support us very well,” he said.

Last year, the grand total was just over $234,000. But the campaign was also a couple of days shorter.

Major said upwards of 450 volunteers are needed throughout the course of the Christmas Kettle Campaign as well.

To volunteer, call 403-346-2251 and ask for Debbie.

“She has done an excellent job, and she has excellent rapport with our volunteers, as well as with the staff,” he said.

Kettle shifts are in two hour segments. During the campaign, there are about 1,300 shifts to fill. As Bridger pointed out, even one shift during the campaign is a big help.

Volunteers are also especially needed to fill the later shifts of 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. and 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays. Folks can also donate online at Fillthekettle.com, and this site can also be used to host a virtual kettle to get family and friends to donate.

During the kick-off event, Handley also spoke about the Salvation Army’s importance in the community. “I want to thank publicly the Salvation Army for all that they do for people in need in our community. As the banner behind us here says, it’s about giving hope today, and that’s absolutely what this is all about here in our community.

“When you hear about the food campaigns and programs for children in need and their families, it absolutely touches my heart because I know there are a lot of families struggling and who are in need, and especially at this time of year,” she said. “A special thank you as well to all of the volunteers.”

During the kick-off event, members of the local Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club of Red Deer were also honoured for their support of and volunteering with the Salvation Army over the past several decades as well.

Bridger also said that campaign funds ultimately remain in Red Deer and are essential for the Salvation Army to provide much needed assistance at Christmas as well as to provide a variety of assistance programs year round which include emergency assistance, the School Weekend Meal Program, seniors’ luncheons, the New Bed Program, summer camps, daily bread distribution as well as groceries, diapers, household basic and clothing assistance.

Also ongoing via the Salvation Army is the Adopt-A-Family Campaign – to register for assistance or to sponsor a family, call 403-346-2251. The last day for registrations is Dec. 12th.

“We get a lot of very positive feedback. Families that are helped – we hear their stories. And every year we also get new people that haven’t had to apply before. Some come and feel rather embarrassed that they have to come to ask for help, but we try to make them feel at ease. We tell them that these things happen – people lose jobs and times get tough.”

But the stories of appreciation are plentiful. Even the volunteers at the kettles hear stories from people who reflect on how the Army has made a difference in their own lives or the lives of friends and family members, he added. “It’s a good feeling.”

Looking ahead, the Annual Santa Shuffle & Elf Walk is set for Dec. 1st at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, starting at 10 a.m.

To register online, visit www.santashuffle.ca.

The annual Christmas Day dinner runs Dec. 25th from noon – 1:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Red Deer Church (4837 – 54th St).

For more about any of the above events or programs, call 403-346-2251 or visit www.salvationarmyreddeer.com.

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