The Salvation Army Christmas kettle campaign is less than a week from completion and as of Dec. 15 only 41 per cent of their total goal has been raised.
The Salvation Army’s goal for the Christmas season is $65,000 and despite group like the Kiwanis Club matching $3,000 in donations, they’ve only been able to raise $26,421.99, Major Bruce Mac Kenzie said.
While donations tend to increase right up to Dec. 23, Mac Kenzie said that “my gut feeling is that we’re a little behind last year.”
Contributing to the problem is the lack of volunteers willing to man the kettles.
“We have a lot of empty spaces,” said Christmas kettle coordinator Lacy Sherman, “and if we can’t get the kettles out we don’t get the donations.”
Mac Kenzie admitted that they’ve had trouble filling the time slots but said that the situation this year isn’t really worse than it was the previous year.
The Christmas kettle campaign is the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser.
“These are the funds that go a long way towards keeping our community and family services operating throughout the year,” he said, adding that “it’s not just funds for Christmas time, it’s about having the resources to help people all year round.”
Last year the Salvation Army raised $61,756.92 out of their $65,000 goal. All of the funds raised go directly towards community and family services here in the Alberni Valley.
“So that means the food bank because we are the food bank for the Alberni region, we have satellite offices in both ADSS and VAST where we’re able to interact and provide our community and family services in the schools and we support the Meals for Learning program in Tofino.”
The funds also go toward the organization’s Christmas hampers.
“There are 380 families that we’re assisting this year” within the Alberni Valley and the West Coast, said Mac Kenzie. That’s up from 364 last year.
They’re also trying something new this year.
“Through our food bank we’ve begun an exciting new program that aims at case management, where we actually walk alongside people instead of just providing a bag of groceries,” he said. “We actually have the time to sit and listen and help them problem solve.”
The program is already showing results.
“We’ve had people calling and saying ‘it’s come together for me so cancel my appointment and give it to someone who needs it more…Instead of measuring how many hampers we gave away or how many families we assisted, when you measure how many people have said ‘I don’t need your help anymore,’ that means you’ve succeeded.”
Anyone wishing to sign up for a Christmas kettle shift can call Lacy Sherman at 250-918-9159.