Sally Ann ringing in the season of giving

“Come on, ring those bells,” is the message being sent by the Salvation Army.

“Come on, ring those bells,” is the message being sent by the Salvation Army as it kicks off its 2011 Christmas Kettle campaign.

The famous kettles and bell ringers dispersed throughout the community on Thursday in hopes of raising money for various charitable projects spearheaded by the Salvation Army.

According to Major Ron Cartmell of the Salvation Army, the organization is always looking for additions to its jingle bell kettle team.

“Ringing bells is actually a lot of fun,” said Cartmell. “Most of our volunteers say, ‘We do this year after year because people stop and tell us stories about how the Salvation Army has helped them in years past.’”

Last year the Christmas fundraiser brought in $650,000. Cartmell said a similar result is this year’s target.

“Our goal for the kettles is $250,000 and then we do a mail appeal to some of our regular donors and the goal for that (initiative) is $400,000. So, in total, our target is $650,000,” said Cartmell.

Commissioner Brian Peddle, responsible for the national work of the Salvation Army, said that 87 cents of every dollar goes towards the Salvation Army’s network of charitable programs. This exceeds the Canada Revenue Agency’s guideline of 65 per cent donation efficiency.

Money raised goes to a variety of Salvation Army programs. But a healthy portion helps local families during the holidays.

“We spend a lot of money at Christmas helping families and we put a fair amount of money into our emergency food bank, which helps families throughout the year,” said Cartmell.

One of the major charitable acts done around Christmas is the Salvation Army Family Christmas Hampers program.

“Families that are in need come and apply for a hamper. We ask them to fill out the appropriate information and gift suggestions. We take (the information) and try to fill those gift suggestions,” said Cartmell.

“Then they come back on Dec. 21 and pick up their food hamper, which is a turkey, potatoes, carrots, bread, milk and eggs, as well as all the toys for the children.”

Cartmell said that none of the gifts are labeled as being from the Salvation Army.

“The gifts don’t come from the Salvation Army. They could come from Santa Claus; they could come from mom and dad.

“Nobody wants to go back to school in January and say, ‘The Salvation Army gave us Christmas.’ It’s just part of protecting people’s dignity.”

Last Christmas the Salvation Army provided food and toy hampers for more than 1,000 children in the Central Okanagan.

Those who would like to apply for food and toy hampers can visit 1480 Sutherland Ave. any time between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Monday, Nov. 21 to Friday, Nov. 25.

Applicants are asked to bring two pieces of ID for each adult and one piece of ID for each child in the household. Applicants must also provide proof of residence.