The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign will be up-and-running full-steam on Friday, Nov. 20.
A soft-launch of four kettles took place across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows this past Saturday .
It was a cautious start to the campaign in order to make sure safety protocols in place this year will keep both volunteers and the public safe.
“We’re in uncharted times right now and it is hard to know what to do and whether to even have kettles at all,” said Amelia Norrie, fundraising coordinator with the Ridge Meadows Ministries of the Salvation Army.
“But obviously we rely extremely heavily on our kettle donations every year. We have to get them out there, but we are going to take a soft approach at it this year,” she explained.
This year each kettle volunteer will be wearing personal protective equipment, there will be tap machines for contactless donations, physical distancing will be enforced, Lysol wipes will be used to sanitize equipment and there will be special covers for the point-of-sale machines.
“We’re ready to go to make this as safe as possible,” said Norrie, adding that online donations are always accepted.
The Salvation Army and Canadian Tire are partnering together this year. Instead of having a kettle outside the store, point-of-purchase donations will be accepted instead.
Kettles will be outside Staples and London Drugs in Maple Ridge, and the Save On Foods locations at 203 Street and Lougheed Highway and at 227 Street and Lougheed Highway.
Norrie is hoping that despite the pandemic they will still be able to meet last years total of $80,000, although she knows that finances are tight for a lot of families in the community and giving might look different. But she is looking for more volunteers for the kettles.
The Salvation Army has seen a 19 per cent increase in the number of people who have used its services this year because of delayed wages. And, people listing homelessness as their reason for visits has doubled since 2019, according to the charitable organization.
“This year, we see evidence that the people we serve are struggling like never before,” said Lt-Colonel John P. Murray, national spokesperson for The Salvation Army.
“We refuse to let the pandemic steal their Christmas joy. That’s why The Salvation Army is providing those in need with food, shelter and other essentials. We need the help and support of Canadians who can donate more now than ever,” he added.
The national fundraising goal of the kettle campaign is $23 million this year.
Last year, across the country, the organization maintains they have helped more than 1.9 million people – providing 3.3 million people with free meals, assisting 233,000 people with Christmas food hampers and toys, and more than 1.3 million people with food, clothing or practical help.
Donations from the campaign will also go towards programs like: substance-use recovery; housing support; job and skills training; and budgeting classes. And, the organization says, it will have kettles at 2,000 locations across the country.
The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family campaign is currently underway.
Donors will be able to choose a family – whether it’s a single parent with two kids, or a senior – and either make a financial donation or shop for presents themselves.
“We have COVID measures in place at our office to make sure gifts are sanitized and, if not sanitized, they are left for a 48-hour period before they are distributed to families,” explained Norrie.
She is expecting to serve 50 families in the community, if not more, through the program.
However, in previous years sponsoring families were able to drop off their packages to the sponsor family. This year the Salvation Army has eliminated that due to safety and will be delivering presents themselves.
“Our number one priority this Christmas season is the safety of everybody,” said Norrie.
For more information or to make a donation go to ridgemeadowssa.ca.