Ron Sestrap jingles a bell during a two-hour shift of volunteering for the Salvation Army kettle campaign. Sestrap has been at it for about nine years, now. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

A bit of joy from Abbotsford’s Christmas Kettles

December brings three big changes to malls across Canada: a surge of shoppers, Xmas music and kettles

As we enter December, a trio of cheer comes to malls throughout the country.

The first is the surge of people, bustling to get their Christmas shopping done before the malls fill with even more people making last-minute purchases. (You may contend that Christmas shopping is no cheerful task, but try telling that to the kids on the big day.)

The second, of course, is the music. You’ve been hearing it since Nov. 1 – perhaps complaining that it’s too early for such merry tunes – but once we enter December it’s a little less jarring. All the classics from the chipper renditions of Walking In A Winter Wonderland to, say, a beatboxing, upbeat cover of O Come, All Ye Faithful.

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Third and final, you’ll hear the jingling of bells. You’d be forgiven if you at first assume the jingling is coming from one of the innumerable Christmas songs about none other than bells.

But as you walk closer, you’ll see the source of the jingling – real bells! – situated next to the patented red kettle of the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas fundraising campaign.

The Sally Ann’s Christmas Kettle campaign is featured in 2,000 locations across Canada, including some in Abbotsford, a significant growth from the first kettle campaign in Canada, in Toronto in 1903.

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Ron Sestrap, a long-time volunteer with the campaign, jingling all the way back to 2009, says he’s happy to bring attention to the kettles.

“It’s just a matter of making the kettles available, because most people are quite aware of what the Salvation Army does with the donations,” Sestrap said, adding that he got involved because of “a need to try and help the needy.”

“It was my church at that particular time, and still is. And they needed the help. The church needed the help, for somebody to man the station.”

Before starting up with the kettle campaign, Sestrap says he hadn’t done any formal volunteer work, but he was always willing to help out.

And during the giving season, Sestrap says he gets to see people at their best.

“And you’re just available to chat about whatever they want to chat about. … For me it’s quite satisfying that I am, shall we say, in my small way able to help,” he said.

“I’m very, very pleased when they’re very generous. But I’m just as pleased when they put a small amount in. The monetary amount really is secondary. It’s the fact that they’re giving to help somebody else is what’s most satisfying for me.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter


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