The local Salvation Army has seen similar client numbers this year compared to 2010, but the public relations director says expenses have gone up.
Some programs and services have been added, said Deb Lowell, while existing programs have faced increasing costs, resulting in a need for more money. The agency has set a $500,000 goal for its Christmas fundraising campaign, compared to $475,000 last year.
The funds raised by the Sally Ann during the holiday season support the organization year-round. But Lowell said fewer people are donating cash, choosing for example, to give an in-kind donation such as food.
“People are still giving, but they’re giving in different ways,” she said.
The Salvation Army’s main fundraising source at this time of year is the red kettle campaign, starting Dec. 1.
Kettles will be set up at 10 locations in Abbotsford and three in Mission, with all funds remaining in those communities.
Volunteers are still needed to man the kettles and can call 604-309-0660 to sign up.
Businesses and organizations are invited to sponsor a site for a minimum amount, which then entitles them to have a sign displayed indicating their involvement. For sponsorship questions, call Lowell at 604-832-2218.
The organization also runs an Angel Tree program at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. The public is invited to remove a paper angel from the tree and purchase a new unwrapped gift for the child listed.
Lowell said gifts for about 1,200 children are expected to be donated this year.
Among the services provided by the Salvation Army year-round are a meal centre, emergency shelter, referrals to community resources, counselling, and supportive independent living.
The agency deals mainly with single people and couples without children, while families are handled by the Abbotsford Community Services’ Food Bank, which operates as the Christmas Bureau at this time of year.
Co-ordinator Dave Murray was not available for comment before press deadline, but the bureau holds a Christmas campaign to raise funds for year-round services. These include food hampers for families in need, an on-site dental clinic, mentoring, school supplies, financial management workshops and more.
At Christmas, the bureau provides gifts and food, including through its sponsor-a-family program. Donations of new unwrapped toys and other gifts are now being accepted. Families in need of support are encouraged to register as soon as possible, as are businesses and organizations that would like to sponsor a family.
Meanwhile, both organizations host special events this weekend. The Salvation Army’s annual Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk is on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Ellwood Park, starting at 10 a.m. Registration can be done online at santashuffle.com or in person.
The Christmas Bureau hosts an open house on Sunday, Dec. 4 – the same night as the downtown Christmas tree lighting – from 4 to 8 p.m. It is located at 33914 Essendene Ave.
For more information on how to donate to the Christmas Bureau, call 604-859-5749, visit http://www.abbotsfordchristmasbureau.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations for the Salvation Army may be made at any kettle, by mail, by phone (604-852-9305), online (http://careandshare.ca/) or in person at either the Centre of Hope (34081 Gladys Ave.) or Cascade Community Church (35190 DeLair Rd.).