Thursday, 30 November 2017 11:59

Salvation Army looking for support for Christmas campaign in Swift Current

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Major Don Grad speaks during the official launch of the Salvation Army's 104th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current, Nov. 25. Standing behind him is Major Elizabeth Grad. Major Don Grad speaks during the official launch of the Salvation Army's 104th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current, Nov. 25. Standing behind him is Major Elizabeth Grad.

The Salvation Army has set a large fundraising goal for their 104th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current.
The official launch of the campaign took place with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the opening of the Miracle Room with angel tree in the Swift Current Mall, Nov. 25.


“Our goal this year is $215,000, which enables us to do all our work at Christmas time of course, but it also supplies us with the funds we need to operate the food bank and related activities all year round,” Major Don Grad said.
The money that will be raised during the Christmas campaign will stay in the community to support the work of the Salvation Army in the Swift Current area throughout the year.
These activities include the community food bank, Monday evening community meals, the alternative measures justice program, free legal clinics, chaplaincy work, and working in partnership with various agencies in the community.
According to Major Grad there appears to have been a growing need in the community during the past year.
“We’ve seen many new faces,” he noted. “Now whether that’s a ripple effect coming from layoffs of two years ago I’m not sure, but we have seen a number of new faces coming in for a regular food hamper, which we’ve been able to help of course. ... It's sad, because it means there’s more people who’ve been bumped down the line for whatever economic reason.”
Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault attended the launch of the Salvation Army's Christmas campaign and he participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“All of us have a responsibility to give back to those that are less fortunate,” he said. “We’re very lucky to live in a community that is so giving, that has such open hearts, open hands, and goes out of their way to try to help.”
He expressed gratitude towards the Salvation Army for their work in the community to assist those in need.
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“We’re very, very fortunate to have a very successful Salvation Army here in Swift Current,” he said. “Major Don and his team and his legion of volunteers go out of their way year-round to be able to provide meals and clothing and gifts to those that are less fortunate. Christmas time is our time where we’re able to help with that.”
There are many ways for people to support the Salvation Army's Christmas campaign in Swift Current. They can volunteer for a shift at one of the Christmas kettles in the city.
“A Christmas kettle shift is only two hours and the Christmas kettles provide just under half of our funds over the course of this campaign,” Major Grad said. “People of course can always just donate funds, as in a cheque or such, and they’ll get a tax receipt in the new year.”
People can volunteer at the food bank to help out with the packing and distribution of food hampers. They can also help out at the Christmas Day community meal, which is organized by a committee representing various agencies in the city.
“Last year we served probably just under 200 people, and it was a fun time for all,” he said. “We had Santa there and children and adults all received a gift before they left. That was all through the generosity of Swift Current and area residents.”
The registration for food hampers started on Nov. 27. Individuals and families can apply for food hampers from Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1-3 p.m. until Dec. 7. Volunteers will assist them with the application process, and they need to bring identification, proof of address and income, and health care cards.
Last year a total of 280 Christmas hampers were prepared and distributed, which represented about 30,000 pounds of food.
“The bulk of that is donated through the generosity of people in the area,” he said. “We get some wonderful support from the Hutterite colonies with the potatoes and carrots and such, and we end up buying a small amount, namely fresh milk and fresh bread, which we give out with the hampers on the day of distribution.”
There will be opportunities to support the Christmas campaign at two upcoming events in Swift Current. The teddy bear toss will take place at the Swift Current Broncos game. Dec. 2. People can throw teddy bears, toques and mitts on the ice after the Broncos score their first goal against the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Salvation Army is in need of adult sizes for toques and mitts.
The CP holiday train will make a stop in Swift Current at 12:15 on Dec. 17. The Salvation Army will provide hot chocolate to those in attendance, and there will be a truck on site to receive food donations.
Another way for Swift Current area residents to make a difference this festive season is to visit the Miracle Room in the Swift Current Mall, where they can take a tag from the angel tree to buy a gift for a child in need. The last day for dropping off toys at the Miracle Room will be Dec. 14, to allow time for items to be organized and matched in preparation of hamper distribution.
“The Miracle Room is where we gather toys that we’ll be putting together for our hampers,” he explained. “So when people apply for hampers, we create what’s known as an angel tag. ... Last year children receiving toys was up fairly dramatically. In 2015 we did 192 kids, last year we did 251.”
A business, family, individual, agency or club can also support an entire family through the Salvation Army's adopt-a-family initiative. They will purchase and organize the entire food and toy hamper for a family in need.
“Some families have done it for a number of years and they find it is a wonderful way to teach that whole giving spirit,” he said. “So instead of shopping for their own toys, the kids in the family are helping and the parents will often use it as a sharing lesson. Businesses have often done it in lieu of say Christmas gifts to each other. ... So it’s just a different way people can help.”
Major Grad expressed his gratitude towards the community for the support shown to the Salvation Army in the past. He and his wife, Major Elizabeth Grad, have served in communities across the country, and they are impressed with the generosity of Swift Current area residents.
“I continue to marvel at the support the Salvation Army gets in Swift Current,” he said. “On a per capita basis we have not seen this support anywhere else in Canada. So well done, Swift Current, and it’s our pleasure to be able to utilize that support and to translate it into help for others, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for a Christmas kettle shift can call Dolores at 306-741-1714 or the Salvation Army office at 306-778-0515 for more information about volunteer opportunities and ways to support the Christmas campaign.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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