The Salvation Army in Abbotsford launches its annual Christmas Kettle campaign on Monday, Nov. 23 with a few changes from previous years due to the pandemic.
Fundraising coordinator Kim Hissink said the agency’s largest public fundraising drive will have fewer locations this year: 13 in Abbotsford and five in Mission.
Volunteers and paid workers will be equipped with personal protective equipment and will adhere to physical-distancing protocols, Hissink said.
“The traditional kettle kickoff event that is hosted by the Abbotsford Pilots will not take place this year, but we are getting creative and will be producing a short kickoff video that will be uploaded for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
Hissink said the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree will once again be in Sevenoaks Shopping Centre from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, allowing the community to choose tags and shop for the wish list of local kids.
She said the need to raise money is greater than ever as more and more people face new financial challenges and “frightening realities” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Salvation Army’s national fundraising goal is $23 million, and in Abbotsford-Mission it is $150,000.
Hissink said the local Salvation Army has provided more than 1,800 hampers to date – a 50 per cent increase over 2019 – by partnering with the Abbotsford School District over the summer months. The agency also provides daily hampers for families and individuals from the emergency pantry at its Centre of Hope on Gladys Avenue.
Captains Ruth and Ian Gillingham said the Salvation Army has been serving Abbotsford for more than 35 years and, thanks to the generosity of donors and volunteers, will continue to be mobilized to assist wherever there is hardship.
“This year is unlike any other as we have worked alongside our community partners to care for and meet the needs of so many. At this time of year – which is normally a time of fun, festivity, and family celebration – we are facing uncertainty, isolation, and other unnamed challenges,” they said.
A local family said they are grateful for the support they have received from the Salvation Army in the past.
“We are a hard-working family, with a very modest income, and we often times find ourselves with very little come Christmas time,” they said.
Last year the family registered for the Angel Tree Program and received gifts they otherwise would not have been able to provide for their children.
In addition to donating at the Christmas kettles, the public can donate online at FilltheKettle.com.
Users can also host their own online kettle and encourage their friends, family, neighbours and co-workers to donate to the Salvation Army.
Donations can also be made in person at the Centre of Hope, by calling 604-852-9305 (ext. 138) or by mailing: Centre of Hope, 34081 Gladys Ave., V2S 2E8.
Last year across the country the Salvation Army helped more than 1.9 million people, providing 3.3 million free meals, assisting 233,000 with Christmas food hampers and toys, and over 1.3 million with food, clothing or practical help.