The jingle of Christmas bells is a gentle reminder to shoppers that there are people who need their help – especially over the holidays.
Gerhard Hirsig has the bells in hand, shaking them gently as he stands behind a Salvation Army Christmas Kettle outside the Save-On Foods on 227th Street. It’s his first volunteer shift of the 2014 holiday season.
“It’s just a good thing do to – it makes me feel good,” said Hirsig.
He started four years ago, learning about the need for volunteers through the Maple Ridge Community Church, where he attends services.
The Salvation Army only asks people to donate two hours at a time, and Hirsig does one shift every week.
Last year, he was surprised to see one man slip a $50 bill into the kettle. Mostly it’s change. Still, he said, people putting coins in the kettle every time they walk past can add up to a generous donation.
“And it’s fun when they come with little kids,” said Hirsig. “I like the little kids, and it teaches them well.”
The six-week kettle campaign kicked off across Canada on Friday. Hirsig is among 70 volunteers in Maple Ridge.
More are needed, said Sharon Scramstad, the Salvation Army kettle coordinator.
“We’re still looking for at least that many more,” she said. “We’ve still got 1,500 hours to cover.”
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign marks the 124th year that the organization has asked the public to help millions of Canadians living in poverty. With a $4 million goal in B.C. and a $90,000 goal in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the campaign will enable The Caring Place to work with individuals and families in providing basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter.
Contributions will also help the Caring Place provide life‐changing programs, such as housing support and job and skills training, to help vulnerable individuals find a way out of poverty for good, says a press release from the organization.
Anyone who wishes to support the Caring Place this season by volunteering for a two-hour kettle shift can contact Sharon at 604-463-8296 x104, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a financial donation, please visit www.salvationarmy.ca/donate-now, call 604-463-8296 x 120 or text HOPE1016 to 45678.
In the first nine months of 2014, The Salvation Army Caring Place has:
• helped 107 people find housing;
• helped 94 people find treatment/detox;
• served 81,962 meals to the community (9,000/ month down from 10,000);
• served 500 different individuals every month (Down from 600);
• helped 223 kids with back to school supplies;
• served 17,869 school bag lunches, 175 students per day;
• served 110 families with baby necessities.