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Thursday, 14 December 2017 06:34

Salvation Army's Christmas campaign benefits from new walk-in freezer

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Major Don Grad with the new walk-in freezer at the Salvation Army in Swift Current. Major Don Grad with the new walk-in freezer at the Salvation Army in Swift Current.

The Swift Current Salvation Army's current Christmas campaign is benefitting from the recent installation of a walk-in freezer.


Salvation Army staff and volunteers have been busy sorting and storing food donations in preparation for the packing of the Christmas hampers, and the new freezer has been filling up.
“We finally got it up and going, and we’re happily filling it,” Major Don Grad said. “We’re getting ready for turkeys and other goodies that are going to be coming.”
The purchase of the walk-in freezer became a reality after the success of the Salvation Army's 2016 Christmas campaign in Swift Current, when its fundraising goal was exceeded by about $30,000. The freezer will make a big difference to store food donated to the Salvation Army during the year.
“It increases our capacity, which is needed at different times of the year,” he said. “Occasionally we’ll be offered a whole cow, whether that’s in hamburgers, steaks, roast, or whatever, and this gives us the ability to actually be able to receive it and then we can of course give it out with our hampers. It gives us more flexibility, a little more increased capacity, and it’s also a more efficient unit. The number of chest freezers this would replace is going to be cheaper per pound to operate.”
Most of the food currently stored in the walk-in freezer will be used in the Christmas hampers, that will be distributed next week. During the rest of the year the donated food from the freezer will be used in regular food hampers, for the regular Monday night meals at the Salvation Army and it will also be shared with other non-profit agencies in the Swift Current area.
“So it’s been used both here and distributed into the community, because we want to be a community partner connecting both ways,” he said.
The walk-in freezer is one of two items on a longstanding wish list that the Salvation Army is able to purchase as a result of generous community support during last year's Christmas campaign. The other item is a commercial dishwasher, which will be purchased soon.
“We haven’t ordered it yet,” he said. “It’s been one of those things that we haven’t always had a lot of time to work on, but we’re trying to do our homework to make sure we get the right thing that will do the right job. We’re pretty sure what we’re going to order now.”
The commercial dishwasher will make a real difference to the provision of meals on Monday evenings, because at the moment they are using paper plates and plastic cutlery.
“What it will mean is we can use real plates, which is more eco-friendly of course, but also when we do our community meals we want to treat people with a sense of value and dignity, and to serve someone a meal on a real plate is just a nice gesture,” he explained. “We’ll also be able to use real cutlery, which is nice, because cutting a piece of meat with a plastic knife is a little bit tough. .... Of course, with the commercial dishwasher it’s quick – you can run a hundred set of plates through it in no time.”
The regular Monday night meals are attended by 80 to 100 people. That attendance has been the same for the past nine months.
“It got a whole variety of people, from those with low income to people who just would otherwise be eating alone,” Major Grad said. “So it’s a chance to come out to eat in a more social setting.”
The Monday meals are not taking place at the moment because the space is used to pack the Christmas hampers, but the meals will resume Jan. 8.
The commercial dishwasher and walk-in freezer have been on the Swift Current Salvation Army's wish list for five or more years.
“It’s been talked about, but of course practical issues of funding and things like that come into play,” he said. “So when we had that surplus last year, we wanted to use it for something tangible. People like to know the money is used for something very practical and so we wanted to honour the intention of the donor. ... People are giving for the food bank for Christmas. This is a couple of very tangible things we wanted for a while and so the Lord provided.”
There are always something on their wish list, and they determine those items in consultation with their volunteers who are doing the work. For the kitchen one of the items they would like to still purchase is a commercial type food processor.
“That way we can grate our own cheese from the big blocks, which are obviously cheaper to buy, and it will do everything else – slice and dice and make salads,” he said.
The Salvation Army's fundraising goal for the 2017 Christmas campaign in Swift Current is $215,000. Major Grad is optimistic this target will be achieved.
“I want to say thank you to the people of Swift Current and area, and of course I give God the praise, because He puts it on people’s hearts to help us and we just really appreciate their support,” he  said.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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