The Salvation Army in the Central Okanagan has kicked off its 2017 Christmas Kettle campaign.
The campaign, looking to raise $800,000 this year, funds programs provided by the army both at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year in the community.
Last year, the Salvation Army’s Community Life Centre on Rutland Road saw 2,400 individuals and families pass through its doors looking for help in a variety of ways.
“There are many in our community who are not aware of the scope of what we do at the (Salvation Army) Community Life Centre,” said Patty Lou Bryant, communications coordinator with the Central Okanagan Salvation Army.
“From our casework offices and classroom facilities, to our commercial kitchen and food bank operations—this is a very active facility that is impacting our community on a daily basis.”
The organization also has a mobile unit used in the event of emergencies, and it provides a number of non-emergency services such as free income tax preparation assistance in the spring and operates thrift stores. Its Rutland facility has been used as an emergency response centre and shelter in times of local crisis.
For the annual Kettle campaign, bell ringers—the men, women and children who man the collection kettles at more than 20 locations throughout the Central Okanagan—are still being sought, especially for the rest of this month, said Bryant. She said there are currently 5,000 hours to fill during the upcoming campaign.
“People aren’t necessarily thinking of Christmas right now,” she said. “But once we get into December, we usually have no problem getting volunteers.”
She said even high school students can participate and get credit for the hours they volunteer.
Shifts are based on the volunteer’s availability and anyone wishing to volunteer can contact the Salvation Army at www.kelownasalvationarmy.ca, by email at email@example.com or by calling 250-860-2329, extension 324.
Last year, the local campaign raised more more $800,000, $340,000 of that as cash donated directly to the kettles and the remainder through the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas appeal letter sent out to the community.
“This is a very generous community,” said Bryant.
On Thursday, the annual kick-off event was held with many local dignitaries on hand to celebrate with a symbolic mass “jingle.”
Lt. Darryl Burry, lead pastor of the Central Okanagan Salvation Army said with increasing demands, the need to help those in the community is growing. And that’s where the Salvation Army is determined to step in and lend a hand.
He said the goal of $800,000 is not only achievable, it is one that will continue to support the people who come to the Salvation Army for help.
The 2017 Christmas Kettle campaign in the Central Okanagan will run until Dec. 23.
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