Salvation Army honours volunteers

Major Ron Cartmell of the Salvation Army tells the guests of Celebrate the Story how much money was raised by various businesses during the Christmas Kettle Campaign.  - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Major Ron Cartmell of the Salvation Army tells the guests of Celebrate the Story how much money was raised by various businesses during the Christmas Kettle Campaign.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Those who spent their valuable time ringing bells during the 2011 holiday season heard a familiar sound on Friday morning.

But this time, the bells weren't being rung by them, they were being rung for them.

The Salvation Army held its first ever Celebrate the Story breakfast on Jan. 27.

Suzie Docherty, volunteer coordinator, and Major Ron Cartmell of the Salvation Army were the MCs for the event, which thanked those who helped the charitable organization raise $285,000 through the Christmas Kettle Campaign.

Docherty said that the purpose of the sponsored breakfast was to appreciate, inspire and educate.

"It was a vision come true," said Docherty.

"We wanted to be able to appreciate people and remind people that, no matter what their station is in life, they make a difference. We also wanted to honour people's devotion by sharing (information) about our programming with them."

Celebrate the Story gave individuals and representatives from different businesses in town the chance to tell stories from their experiences with the Christmas kettles. Representatives from various Salvation Army programs also spoke to give those in attendance a better idea of what the money raised is being used for.

"There were a few times where I felt my eyes welling up because it really does make a difference when we give to other people," said Cartmell.

"I think it impacts us individually, within our very spirit and soul, to be able to give to others."

This year's Christmas Kettle Campaign got off to a shaky start as funds were much lower than expected in the early part of December. Towards the end of the month, the money poured in and the Salvation Army was able to reach its fundraising target.

Cartmell and Docherty agreed that the last minute surge of assistance from the community made this event extra special.

"At times it was a little anxious because we were going so far behind. Just to have that huge reversal at the end felt wonderful because the community really got behind us and made a difference," said Cartmell.

Docherty said that the turnaround is "a testament to the Kelowna citizens."

"We live in a very generous community," she said.

The plan is to make Celebrate the Story an annual event.

"I think there's great power in sharing this story as a group," said Docherty.

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