The Salvation Army in Port Alberni hopes to raise $100,000 for people in need this holiday season with the 2021 Kettle Campaign.
Each year, volunteers with the Kettle Campaign collect donations at different storefronts across the Alberni Valley. Volunteers could be spotted ringing the bells on Saturday, Nov. 20 in front of Walmart, where the first kettle opened up to collect donations for the holiday donation drive.
Last year, the community of Port Alberni raised $139,000 for people in need through the kettle campaign. This year, the campaign’s goal is $100,000, and Captain Michael Ramsay of the Salvation Army is confident the community will be able to meet this goal.
“Last year the community was so generous and stepped up when there was a need,” said Ramsay. “I have every faith that we’ll reach that goal again.”
The need is just as great this year, said Ramsay, because COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. People have been dealing with the compounding effects of the pandemic and associated restrictions for almost two years. Volunteers with the Salvation Army and the Alberni Valley’s COVID-19 response team have delivered more than 318,900 meals and food hampers to people since the pandemic began, he said. They went from providing around 300 per week to 700 per day in the early weeks of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, one of several dignitaries at the campaign kickoff dinner on Saturday, said he knows how important the Salvation Army is to a community. His mother raised him and his brother on her own for a period of time, and Johns said his family was given a hand up at times.
“This is the most important fundraising, as we know, for the Salvation Army,” he said. “As the kettle rings, we all feel that’s the sound of Christmas. But it’s also the sound of love.”
With the help of new technology, the Kettle Campaign has been able to continue throughout COVID-19. All kettles have both cash and card options, with the help of some electronic tap machines for those who don’t have cash.
“Many of us don’t actually carry cash like we used to in the past,” Ramsay laughed.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign will stay in the Alberni Valley to help children and families in need, said Ramsay.
“Specifically around Christmas time, that goes towards Christmas hampers, Christmas meals and toys for children,” said Ramsay.
The Salvation Army also has a number of “angel trees” at different locations around town, where people can pick a tag and buy a present for a local child.
If you are interested in signing up for a kettle shift, you can contact volunteer coordinator Rees Cahen by calling the Salvation Army’s main office (250-723-6913), texting 778-838-4131 or emailing email@example.com.
— With files from Susie Quinn, Alberni Valley News