The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual red kettle campaign in the Central Okanagan ahead of the Christmas season.
A small but energetic kick-off was held Thursday morning in front of the organization’s Community Life Centre in Kelowna’s Rutland area.
But with a devastating fire season, ongoing pandemic, and recent catastrophic flooding in parts of B.C., including Merritt, there are concerns it may impact the spirit of giving this holiday season.
“There’s always that fear there. I mean, this year, especially through the pandemic, we went into, you know, a really hefty emergency disaster service season and, yeah, it’s certainly been challenging,” Angela Stadnyk, volunteer co-ordinator for the Salvation Army Kelowna-Lake Country said.
But if the previous year is any indication, the community has shown it pulls together during the toughest times.
Normally the annual campaign raises around $750,000 but last year more than $940,000 was collected.
“It was incredible. It was an incredible year,” Stadnyk said.
Not only did people step up with monetary donations but the gift of their time as well.
“With a lot of stuff being shut down and people kind of focusing more on their home surroundings, we were able to get people who you know, they typically travel in the winter but they were here so they wanted to kind of do some good and they did some bell ringing which is huge. ”
West Kelowna’s kettle campaign launched last Friday.
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Westside Salvation Army Lt. Jennifer Henson told Global News she believes it’s during tough times that people feel the need to help even more.
“I think that based on the responses that the public has already made, as they’re witnessing, watching the news and whatnot, I believe that people are moved to compassion in these moments,” Henson said. “If nothing else, they want to do something that makes a difference to alleviate other people’s suffering. I believe that our community is very generous and they will continue to give.”
The campaign helps support families and people in need during the Christmas season, which can be stressful for families on fixed incomes.
But it also allows the organization to support people all year long.
“We are raising funds to go to the community so everything that we do raise in this campaign will help us with programming and everything that we do within the community for the next year,” Stadnyk said. “So, you know, the more that we can raise, the more programs we can come up with.”
The kettle campaign is in need of more volunteers and the organization is making an appeal to the public to step forward to give the gift of their time.
“People are worn and tired,” Henson said. “People have stresses in their lives and some people haven’t been able to volunteer as much as they would like and so we do have a great need for volunteers.”
Kettle shifts are two hours and according to the Salvation Army, even volunteering for one shift can make a huge difference.
“With one bell ringing shift, it’s got the potential to bring in the amount that it takes to provide a Christmas for small a family,” Stadnyk said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer for a kettle shift is asked to contact their local Salvation Army.
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