THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Iconic Salvation Army fundraiser faces increased demand, challenges due to COVID-19

Charity says it has not seen an increase in demand like this for decades

The Salvation Army is launching its annual Christmas kettle drive facing what it says is a level of need not seen since the Second World War — even as COVID-19 makes fundraising more difficult.

The iconic red kettles will start appearing in malls, grocery stores and other establishments across the country on Monday as the Sally Ann seeks to raise $23 million this year to help Canadians in need.

Funds raised through the campaign remain in the community where they are donated, with the money going to pay for Christmas hampers, meals and clothing along with drug-recovery programs and training.

Salvation Army spokesman John Murray says that 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 in demand for assistance like this since post-World War Two,” Murray said. “That’s incredible when we consider that.”

Even meeting that modestly increased fundraising target could be a challenge, however, as COVID-19 threatens to wreak havoc on the Salvation Army’s normal way of doing business.

That starts with great uncertainty around exactly how many kettles will actually be out in the community as pandemic-related lockdowns in different parts of the country keep malls and other businesses closed.

“I think of Manitoba where we’re not going to be able to have Christmas kettles out, at least until the middle of December,” he said. “There are parts and pockets of Quebec that’s the same way.”

The Sally Ann is also facing a potential shortage of volunteers as many of those who have typically helped the fundraising drive are older Canadians who are more at risk from COVID-19.

While the charity is providing volunteers with personal protective equipment as well as training to ensure they stay safe, Murray says the actual recruitment of Canadians to help is a challenge.

“The actual recruitment, we’re certainly concerned about that,” he said.

“Annually, we would put out about 2,000 kettle locations across Canada during the holiday season. It remains to be seen whether we’re going to be able to have all those kettle locations filled this year.”

The Salvation Army isn’t the only charity facing challenges; many have previously raised concerns about a lack of volunteers and dried up fundraising due to COVID-19 even as demand for help skyrockets.

The Sally Ann 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.

Like many other organizations, it is hoping that Canadians unable to donate in person will do so online at FilltheKettle.com or by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Charity and DonationsCoronavirusSalvation Army

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Highway 1 eastbound has one lane closed as crews worked to clear up an accident earlier this afternoon.
Accident shuts down one lane eastbound on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Major congestion between Riverside Road and Sumas exit

Alan Pryor in 2015, during the Agassiz Fire Department’s 70th year. (Greg Laychak/The Observer)
Agassiz fireman celebrates 51 years at the hall

Al Pryor has been a key member in the Agassiz Fire Department since he was 16

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

Mike Bismeyer of Abbotsford is the recipient of the national Savita Shah Award for his work promoting kindness and anti-bullying initiatives.
Abbotsford man who was bullied as a teen receives national kindness award

Mike Bismeyer is one of two Canadians to earn Savita Shah Award

RCMP were on scene under the Menzies Street bridge in Chilliwack on Thursday, March 4, 2021 where a body was found. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE: Body found under Menzies bridge in Chilliwack that of man in 20s

Death not considered suspicious, said Chilliwack RCMP

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read