Need has been increasing through the year
The Salvation Army kettles are back out on the streets.
“It’s looking different this year with the masking and distancing,” Maj. Bonita McGory said as Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota and North Bay Mayor Al McDonald made the first donations of the season.
Participants at the official launch were all wearing masks and trying to keep safe distances from each other at Deegan’s on Main Street, with Ralph Diegel blowing a fanfare on a horn to kick off the giving season.
And the watchword for those manning the kettles and those donating for those in need will be safety, McGory says, with the volunteers masked and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes available at the kettles.
“Everything will be done in accordance with all the (safety) protocols,” McGory says. “Our objective is to keep everybody safe.”
Starting Dec. 1, there will also be tap machines at each of the kettles for those who want to make a donation but don’t have cash on hand.
McGory says the tap machines are secure. No information from the donor will be kept on the machine, with the donation information sent instantaneously to a secure machine off site.
The need, she says, is greater this year than ever before. The Salvation Army Food Bank is serving 50 families a week.
Last year the local campaign helped 650 families with Christmas hampers, “and we expect more this year” will require the hampers through the holiday season.
The local Salvation Army also provides more than 400 school lunches, “and the need is going up,” she says.
The funds raised – the target locally is $250,000 between kettle donations and online donations – also is used to help send kids to summer camp, “so we are talking thousands of people” who are helped through the campaign.
The kettle campaign is the Salvation Army’s only fundraiser for the entire year, she explains, so “whatever we bring in between the kettles and the mail-in campaign is our budget we will work with for the next year.”
There will be six kettles “at the very most” set up this year, McGory says, including at Sobey’s, Parkers Your Independent Grocer, Walmart and Metro to begin with, and another at the LCBO on Algonquin Avenue starting in December.
The kettles will be in place until Christmas Eve, and in addition to cutting down the number in use, there will be reduced hours. Until Dec. 12, the kettles will be manned Thursdays to Saturdays. On Dec. 14, they will be manned from Mondays to Saturdays.
Weekday hours will be noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Rota encourages everyone who can to support the campaign.
“Everyone deserves to have a great Christmas,” he said, noting that although the pandemic is changing things, there are more options available than ever before to support the campaign.
In addition to donations at the kettle, both cash and tap, donations can be made online at salvationarmy.ca with all funds raised in the community staying in the community.
At the Salvation Army website, click on donate and locate the community you wish to support.
Nationally, the Salvation Army is aiming to raise $23 million this year. Funds raised through the campaign will remain in the community where they are donated. Those making online donations can specify which community they would like to donate to.
Salvation Army spokesman John Murray says the national target is 10 per cent more than in previous years — even though the charity has received five times the normal number of requests for help since the pandemic began.
“We’ve not seen the increase in demand for assistance like this since post-World War Two,” Murray says. “That’s incredible when we consider that.”
The Salvation Army says there has been a 19 per cent increase in the number of people visiting the charity this year because of delayed wages, while the number saying they are homeless has doubled since 2019.