The bells are ringing at the Salvation Army’s Christmas kettles in Swift Current to reach a large fundraising goal in support of various activities for those in need.
The official launch of the Salvation Army's 106th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current took place with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the opening of the Miracle Room with wish tree in the Swift Current Mall, Nov. 23.
Deputy Mayor Pat Friesen brought greetings on behalf of the City of Swift Current. She expressed her thanks for everything the Salvation Army does throughout the year.
“They do a lot for our city and I need you to know that it is very much noticed and very much appreciated,” she said. “So thank you to the Salvation Army, all the volunteers and all the support folks that make this all happen. We really do appreciate it.”
She asked residents to think about those who are not as fortunate to always have food or a roof over their heads, because there are people in the community who are in need.
Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley brought greetings on behalf of the provincial government. He also expressed appreciation towards the Salvation Army staff and volunteers for their contributions to the community during the entire year.
“As Christmas season approaches, we just tend to think of the great work the Salvation Army does, but it's not just at Christmas time,” he noted. “It's a year-round organization that helps folks each and every day. ... I don't think you have to go too far to find somebody who has come upon some difficult times. They rely on services and supports of the Salvation Army.”
Swift Current Salvation Army corps officer Capt. Ed Dean referred to the important tradition of the Christmas kettle campaign when he spoke to media after the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This is something that has been going on in the Salvation Army since the early 1900s, and we’re still doing today what we did then in the same fashion with the pots and people contributing, and so it’s a tried and true method,” he said. “It does help. We have volunteers that will come in and they will count it, volunteers that stand on the kettles, volunteers that give all the way round, and then we have a generous, generous community that $1 at a time it reaches that goal.”
The goal of this year’s Christmas kettle campaign is $260,000 and he acknowledged it is a large amount.
“I know that it’s massive when you say that on the first day,” he noted. “You say it very fast, $260,000. Wow! But I know that the people of the southwest, Swift Current and area, can reach that target. I have confidence in them so that we can continue to do what the Salvation Army does, and that’s to help those that are in need.”
The Christmas campaign is the Salvation Army's main fundraising event in the community and the money raised will support the food bank and other activities during the year.
“It raises the funds for the Salvation Army to be able to do the work throughout Christmas and throughout the year,” he said. “The needs do not stop the day after Christmas. There are 356 days a year and the generous contributions of the community is what helps us build the fund that we do.”
The food bank experienced a shortage of various items towards the end of summer and there seems to be a growing need in the community.
“It appears that the need is growing according to our regular food bank use,” he said. “We are seeing an increase in the number of users this year. What that’s contributed to, we’re not quite sure yet, but there is the need.”
Last year volunteers helped to prepare and distribute 272 Christmas food hampers as well as 16 adopt-a-family hampers. The two-week application period for the upcoming Christmas hampers ended on Nov. 28. This will give staff and volunteers enough time to organize the hampers, which will be distributed in the week before Christmas.
The Swift Current Salvation Army will also host their annual Christmas Day community dinner, for which preparations have already started. Last year’s dinner was attended by about 150 people and over 50 volunteers helped to prepare and serve the meal.
Anyone who wants to buy a toy for a child this Christmas can take a tag from the wish tree in the Miracle Room, which is located across Safeway inside the Swift Current Mall. These tags have the wishes of children for Christmas, and the toys will be distributed as part of a family's food hamper.
Volunteers are needed to ring the bells at the Christmas kettles, which are located at the Miracle Room, Walmart, Pioneer Co-op, and Pharmasave. There will also be a kettle at the SLGA liquor store starting Dec. 1. Each shift is two hours long and five volunteers are needed daily at each location between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. for six days of the week.
There will be opportunities to support the Salvation Army’s Christmas campaign at two upcoming events in Swift Current. The teddy bear toss takes place at the Swift Current Broncos game. Nov. 30. People can throw teddy bears, toques and mitts on the ice after the Broncos score their first goal against the Prince Albert Raiders.
The CP holiday train will make a stop in Swift Current at 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 18. The Salvation Army will provide hot chocolate to those in attendance, and there will be a truck on site to receive food donations. Musical entertainment will be provided by Meghan Patrick, Tanika Charles and Kelly Prescott.
Anyone interested in volunteering for a Christmas kettle shift can call Arlene at 306-741-9519 or the Salvation Army office at 306-778-0515 for more information about volunteer opportunities and ways to support the Christmas campaign.