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Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign officially kicks off

The St. Albert Salvation Army is back with their annual Christmas kettle campaign, the one time of year the organization asks the public for help to keep their social service programs running. Capt.
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The St. Albert Salvation Army is back with their annual Christmas kettle campaign, the one time of year the organization asks the public for help to keep their social service programs running. 

Capt. Bhreagh Rowe, community ministries officer and pastor of the church, said they need to raise $350,000 this year to fund their year-round services in St. Albert, Spruce Grove and Stoney Plain. The campaign started Nov. 14 and runs right until Christmas Eve.

“It's basically what we base our operating budget off when we're planning for next year. So it's extremely important, and we do it all in just six weeks,” Rowe said. 

“We are just so grateful to the community and just how continually generous they are to help us keep going.”

This year, funds will help support a few new programs created to help people struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Salvation Army has had to pivot their programming to better serve vulnerable populations who may not qualify for traditional social service programs. 

“We have seen a huge uptake in people from two income families — people who work really hard, but at the end of the day, just cannot make ends meet,” Rowe said. 

“It’s exciting because we've been able to change what we offer to fit that need. But it's also been equally heartbreaking just to see people who were fine who all of a sudden have no idea where to turn.” 

With the increasing price of food, the Salvation Army opened a market in September with Hello Fresh to help those in need offset the cost of their grocery bills. Between 10 to 15 families visited on opening day alone, Rowe said. 

The Salvation Army also started a drop-in program for young people called the Bunker, and offered a youth leadership course last summer. 

Every dollar of the Christmas kettle donations stay in the community to help fund a variety of different programs, from Christmas assistance to hot meals. 

“Our main objective at the Salvation Army all over the world, but specifically here in St. Albert, is to give hope, and hope looks so differently,” Rowe said. 

“It's not just food on the table or a roof over our heads. We had one person who was able to enjoy a movie at the theatre for the first time in three or four years because she could save some money on groceries. That’s offering hope.”

Rowe said the Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers to help with their Christmas campaign, especially in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain. Around 250 volunteers are needed to staff between 10 to 14 kettles in grocery and retail partners in the area.

“It is so much fun to be out there and try and spread that holiday cheer. We always say to our kettle volunteers, a smile can change somebody's day.”

People can donate at any of the Christmas kettle locations in St. Albert, including Walmart, Pearson's Your Independent Grocer and Superstore. People can also donate money by calling or visiting the church (165 Liberton Drive).

Those interested in volunteering can call the local church location for more information. Businesses, organizations, and schools can "adopt" a kettle by booking a day or even half a day, filling all of the shifts with their own members, staff, or students.