Despite the valiant volunteers who rang the bells and begged for coins for Christmas, the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign came up wanting this year.
“We ended up with $82,000 – so $10,000 short of our goal,” said Darrell Pilgrim, executive-director of the Salvation Army’s Caring Place.
That’s about $4,000 less than last year’s total.
The Army’s Christmas kettle campaign pays for the entire meal program for the next year at the Caring Place.
Every day of the year, the Caring Place serves lunch and dinner, more than 10,000 individual meals in a month.
According to the Army, 93 per cent of the people who eat there live in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows.
But with less cash for groceries, there will be fewer free meals in 2015.
“We’ll probably have to do less meals. That’s probably what’s going to have to happen.”
Details of the cutbacks will be dealt with in the new year, Pilgrim said, adding the Caring Place has never had to deal with missing a fundraising goal.
He’s guessing economic conditions and how people are feeling about their finances are the reasons behind the reduced kettle collections and didn’t think that a backlash from people angry with the Caring Place and homeless people in the downtown was the reason for the reduction in donations.
“I honestly don’t think so. I don’t think that has a lot to do with it.”
Many people don’t even know the issues and only 30 per cent bothered to vote in the November civic elections, he pointed out.
One thing that seems to be getting more difficult every year is getting people to volunteer to shake the bells and stand outside and collect the coins in the kettles.
“I would say we were short in the beginning, but by the end of it we picked up steam.”
Each year, about 250 volunteers help out by standing outside malls and stores for a few hours at a time and encourage shoppers to give their spare change.
The kettles raise about $100 an hour. The two Save-On Foods locations in Maple Ridge are the busiest locations.
Next year, though, the Salvation Army may hire people to man the kettles in order to get more boots on the street and more kettles in front of shoppers.
Traditionally, Christmas Eve is the last day for kettles to be on the street. Pilgrim said the Salvation Army hasn’t considered extending the campaign into the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day because it doesn’t want to over tax its helpers.
“They already do so much for us. Asking them to go and do even more is kind of difficult.”
Last year, the Caring Place adopted about 50 families for Christmas, putting together a hamper with all the necessities and goodies required for Christmas.
This year, that number climbed to 65.
One Christmas kettle location the Salvation Army is missing is in front of the former Zellers store in Haney Place Mall.
The new tenant Target doesn’t allow solicitation outside its doors. That’s just the store’s policy, which also applies in the U.S., said Pilgrim.
However, Target did give the Salvation Army about $3,000 this Christmas.