Ridge Meadows Flames players man a Christmas kettle for the Salvation Army. The number of volunteer hours contributed to the kettle campaign was down this year, and so were donations. (Contributed)

Salvation Army kettle campaign off by $10,000-plus

Coldest Night of the Year next big fundraiser for Ridge Meadows Ministries

The Salvation Army kettle campaign is projected to be down by more than $10,000 for the Ridge Meadows Ministries.

Executive director Darrel Pilgrim said the campaign for the holiday season in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows appears to be coming in at $79,000. The exact number will be known at the end of this week, he said.

That is well below the $87,000 raised last year, and the $90,000 goal for this year.

“It is disappointing,” said Pilgrim. “It was harder this year to find volunteers.

“We had lots of empty kettle shifts,” he added. “But at the same time, we did have hundreds of volunteers who helped us.”

He said the power outages that came after a Dec. 20th storm shut down some key businesses at a time when shoppers would be doing their last-minute Christmas shopping. Their closure also put the bell ringers out of work for the day.

“That actually hurt us quite a bit,” he said.

He noted that the Salvation Army campaign was down across the country, although the exact numbers are not yet announced.

As of Dec. 20, the report was $15.7 million across Canada, which was well below the national goal of $21 million less than a week before Christmas.

Pilgrim believes it is just a sign of the rising costs for housing, gas, groceries and other essentials.

“The cost of living has gone up, and people have less disposable income,” he said.

He noted there are also lots of charity events happening in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the Christmas season, so there are numerous opportunities for people to donate.

“It’s great that there are other charities, and more people looking to help,” said.

His charity will have to look at either raising more money, or scaling back some of the programs that would have been funded by the $90,000 budgeted from the kettle campaign.

“We would prefer to find extra funding, rather than reducing our programs,” said Pilgrim, noting that all of the programs are important to the people who receive support through them. The community meal program serves 10,000 meals to more than 600 individuals each month, and there are supports for baby necessities, school lunches for children, back-to-school supplies and more.

The next big fundraiser for the Sally Ann will be the Feb. 23 Coldest Night of the Year. It is part of a national campaign that raises funds and awareness for charities serving “hungry, homeless and hurting people.”

Those taking part will walk a five or 10 km course downtown, then go back to the Salvation Army building for a chilli dinner and live entertainment.

It raised approximately $20,000 last year, and the goal this year is $25,000.

“That event is growing every year, getting bigger and bigger,” said Pilgrim.

• For more information about the Coldest Night of the Year campaign, see cnoy.org

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