By Kirk Starratt
When it comes to having a successful Christmas Kettle Campaign, the Salvation Army realizes it all depends on volunteer and business support and community generosity. They’ve achieved five consecutive record-breaking fundraising campaigns in the Valley, with the kettles bringing in $52,000 in 2007, $65,000 in 2008, $86,000 in 2009, $96,000 in 2010 and $116,000 in 2011.
Organizers are hoping for another successful campaign in 2012 as they strive to raise funds to help those less fortunate during the holidays and throughout the year. All the money collected goes back into the community to help people in need.
“The need goes up year after year,” campaign coordinator Les Harris said.
The Salvation Army helped 499 area families in 2010 and more than 600 in 2011.
Harris is amazed at the generosity of people in the Valley, both when it comes to supporting the campaign and the willingness of local volunteers to donate their time to the cause. The Salvation Army had 20 more volunteers come on board in 2011, for a total of 270. Having enough volunteers to keep kettles out in all locations, all day for every day of the 28-day campaign, is key to keeping donations pouring in.
“We didn’t lose any time last year,” Harris said. “Some of our volunteers put in a lot of time.”
In fact, one volunteer put in more than 200 hours during last year’s campaign and two more came close to putting in 200 hours each.
This year’s campaign runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 24, excluding Sundays, with kettles in 12 locations from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. One new location this year is the Coldbrook Foodland. Harris said the new location in Coldbrook should make a difference with this year’s total.
Major Ross Grandy of the Kentville Salvation Army said he expects the demand for help at Christmas to be greater this year based on the number of applications they’ve received so far, but he doesn’t doubt that Valley residents will be as supportive as ever.
“They really have generous hearts in the Valley,” he said.
The Salvation Army takes applications for Christmas hampers. The funds raised buy toys, turkeys and more. Any money left over goes to help people in need throughout the year. Grandy said they’re very thankful to the Kentville and New Minas Area Council of Churches for their assistance sponsoring Christmas hampers, something that helps the Salvation Army tremendously.
One area where Grandy has noticed a big difference over the past couple years is the willingness of different businesses and organizations to step up and sponsor a family in need at Christmas. Some make a monetary donation, while others actually go out and do the shopping. This is “really building momentum,” he said, and he’s pleased to see more schools taking part.
Some local businesses and organizations, including three Rotary Clubs and students at Northeast Kings Education Centre, are volunteering to look after kettles for a few hours or a day. This is a tremendous help, he said, and can serve as an important learning experience for young people as they begin to realize there are children less fortunate than them.
If you would like to volunteer to look after a kettle, even for an hour, call 678-8203, 670-5235 or 678-2039.
Where’s the closest Salvation Army Christmas kettle?
- New Minas: Superstore, County Fair Mall, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire.
- Kentville: Foodland and the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.
- Wolfville: Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.
- Berwick: Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.
- Windsor: Superstore, Sobeys and the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.
- Coldbrook: Foodland.
Trees help families in need
You can help decorate a Christmas tree while helping to make the holiday season brighter for a family in need.
The Salvation Army is looking after two trees again this year, the Giving Tree at Windsor Home Hardware and the Angel Tree at the County Fair Mall in New Minas. The purpose of the trees is to collect toys, other gifts and monetary donations to help less fortunate families.
The Salvation Army makes note of children in the family when they take applications for Christmas hampers as part of their annual kettle campaign. Tags are made up indicating the child’s age and if the child in need is a boy or girl. The tags are placed on the Giving Tree and shoppers are encouraged to take a tag off and purchase a gift appropriate for the child fitting the description.
“We did very well with the one in Windsor,” kettle campaign coordinator Les Harris said about last year’s Giving Tree. “It’s certainly a worthwhile venture.”
Along with items collected during the annual Christmas in July toy run, held in conjunction with motorcycle club the Saints and Sinners, and some items purchased with proceeds from the kettle campaign, the gifts become part of the Christmas hampers. Home Hardware will host the Giving Tree until Christmas.
Kentville Salvation Army Major Ross Grandy said the Angel Tree at the County Fair Mall also did very well last year in terms of collecting gifts and monetary donations. Grandy credits two volunteers in particular who, along with their family, have played instrumental roles in making the charitable initiative a success.
“Mike and Linda Carter have volunteered hours and hours for the Angel Tree,” he said.
The Angel Tree works in a similar manner as the Giving Tree. The tree is decorated with bulbs and shoppers can take one and replace it with a paper angel bearing their name when they purchase an age-appropriate gift for a child in need or make a monetary donation.
Grandy said they hope the tree, which will soon be in place, will be picked clean of bulbs and covered with paper angels by Christmas.