Salvation Army volunteer Gillian Shearwater plays ‘Suki Yaki’ on her tenor recorder in front of Fairway Market last week. Shearwater has been a kettle campaign volunteer for many years in Alberni.

Alberni SA kettle campaign in dire need of help

The Salvation Army has given so much to so many and now it urgently needs the public's help with its Christmas kettle campaign.

The Salvation Army’s kettle campaign is in dire need of volunteers, says campaign coordinator Schellie Hudson.

“I have about 35 spots still to fill,” she said on Monday afternoon.

Because fewer volunteers have signed up to take shifts at the kettles set up around the community, this year’s campaign is down around $20,000 from last year, she said.

All proceeds from the kettle campaign stay in the community, and goes towards the Christmas hamper program, the food bank and emergency assistance.

“One of the problems we’re having here locally is people either cancelling shifts or just not showing up and not calling,” said Salvation Army Major Bruce Mac Kenzie. “It really leaves us in a quandary.”

Regular volunteers often fill in back-to-back shifts, standing outside for four to six hours at a time to pick up the slack.

Gillian Shearwater is a long time volunteer with the Salvation Army.

She can be seen outside of Fairway Market or Safeway, playing her tenor or alto recorders.

She often uses the time to practice the songs she performs at seniors’ residences throughout the holiday season.

Shearwater said music used to be a big part of the kettle campaign, which is why she plays her recorders instead of ringing the bells.

“I had a partner for four years, from the high school, who played the bass clarinet. The first year he had three wobbly carols and I had one. By the end…people would walk across the parking lot to listen,” she said.

“We really appreciate the work Gillian does with the kettles,” Mac Kenzie said.

Shifts are two hours each, Monday through Friday at various locations around Port Alberni. “Two of our biggest days are Dec. 23 and Dec. 24, and on the 24th we only do it until 2 p.m. But we have hardly anyone booked for that day,” Hudson said.

Volunteering is easy, she added. “We have volunteer tags that you wear when you’re doing your two-hour shift.” Only one of the locations is indoors, so people must dress for the weather.

Kettles are set up at Walmart, Buy-Low Foods, the BC Liquor Store, Safeway, Fairway Market and Quality Foods. Anyone who can fill a two-hour shift may call Hudson or John Cloke at 250-723-6913.

editor@albernivalleynews.com