They sing Christmas carols, dress up in Santa suits, shake Christmas bells or are just a friendly face, but each year there are hundreds of people who volunteer to man a donation kettle for the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
This is the 129th year of the national campaign.
Kyla Araujokukler, standing out in front of the Walmart store with a kettle, said it gives her a good feeling in the holidays to volunteer.
“I enjoy helping the community – so kids have lunch and school, and parents have formula for their babies,” she said.
She referred to the many programs run by Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, including Sonia’s Cradle, which helps more than 3,000 children and their parents through a babies and toddlers program that offers food, as well as shelter, clothing and other necessities.
She also referenced the Haney Rotary school lunch bag program, where Rotary and the Sally Ann partner to provide 140 bagged lunches to school children each day.
Those are just two of many programs aimed at families in the community, which include a Christmas Adopt-a-Family that provides more than 50 food and gift hampers.
Many of these programs are supported through the generous donations of shoppers through the kettle campaign, which raises close to $90,000 per year in Maple Ridge.
Kettle shifts are generally two hours long. The Salvation Army recruits about 150 volunteers to fill some 2,000 hours over the holiday season.
It is the largest campaign for the organization, with more than 2,000 kettle locations across Canada, and the national goal is $21.6 million. It goes to help some of the many Canadians, one in seven, who are struggling to make ends meet.
The campaign is underway from now until Dec. 24. The first kettles were on the streets on Nov. 18.
• To volunteer in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, call Sharon at 604-463-8296, extension 104.