Salvation Army sounds bells to drive up Kettle donations

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There are still many people in St. Albert who need help just to get by, and there’s one message Jason Guy wants to send: the Salvation Army is here for you.

The newly stationed senior pastor at the local church is hopeful that this year’s St. Albert Christmas Kettle Campaign will get the word out to as many people as possible. The campaign, just launched yesterday morning, is about people helping people.

“If you can give this Christmas to help your fellow neighbour, please do that,” he said. “We’re definitely seeing a need in the city. With the programs that we’re operating, we’re seeing that the need is up.”

The kettles and the bell-ringing volunteers who collect monetary donations are an annual sight at various stores and locations in the city. They act as a reminder that this is the season of giving and there’s a growing disparity between those who have more than enough money and those who don’t.

Guy said he believes that city residents will dig deep and help the Salvation Army reach its Kettle Campaign goal. That figure hasn’t increased since last year.

“In the past in St. Albert it has been very successful. The goal this year is $250,000, which is what we met last year. That’s what we’re going to shoot for.”

Volunteers still needed

Before they can even put a kettle out, there has to be someone stationed with it. With nine kettle locations and three-hour shifts over 35 days, the organization already has a mathematical nightmare on its hands.

“We’re about 50 per cent filled for bellringers. We need more volunteers. We’re looking at still another 400 volunteers. We need that to reach our goal.”

The Christmas Kettle Campaign runs until Dec. 24. Kettles are stationed at both Superstore and Walmart locations in St. Albert and Spruce Grove, St. Albert Centre, Sobeys, both Save-On Foods stores, and the Salvation Army Thrift Store at Tudor Glen Market.

All donations stay in the community to help local residents. Donations can be made with cash or credit cards.

Coats for Kids

The Kettle campaign is just one of several programs the church runs to help people in need. Coats for Kids, for instance, has already handed out 99 winter jackets, hats and pairs of mittens to 99 children, with 10 days still left to go.

Last year, the program gave out 130 coats and organizers anticipate that number to go up to 160 this year.

The Salvation Army also offers emergency and disaster relief services, family counselling, services for seniors, budgeting assistance and Christmas hampers. There is also financial assistance in the form of rent subsidies.

“With the rent being so high in St. Albert, we’re finding a huge need this year for rent subsidies. We still have three months left in this budget and we’re already about $5,000 over,” Guy said.

To benefit from Coats for Kids, please contact family services director Marcia Berrisford to set up an appointment. The program runs until Nov. 30 but only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Salvation Army Corps and Community Centre is located at 165 Liberton Dr. For more information call 780-458-1937.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.