The Salvation Army experienced an increased demand for services in all areas this year, and it’s hoped that this season’s fundraising campaign will support this growth.
Deb Lowell, spokesperson for the local Salvation Army, which covers Abbotsford and Mission, said the agency has set a goal of $450,000 during the Christmas season – its main fundraising period.
Money raised at this time of year supports the organization over the next 12 months for services such as hot meals, emergency shelter, supportive living, crisis response, and outreach and family services.
Lowell said the Centre of Hope on Gladys Avenue in Abbotsford served 15,000 more hot meals this year compared to 2013 – from 70,000 to 85,000.
The number of emergency food hampers also increased – from about 660 to 860 – as did the parcels of fresh produce that were distributed (from 38,500 to 43,700).
Lowell said the agency also assisted more people with permanent housing and substance abuse/detox services.
She said the increased numbers can be attributed to the higher cost of living and people having to stretch their dollars further.
“People are really very much in need … All of those things make a real dent in people’s income and their ability to pay their bills.”
The main fundraising source for the Salvation Army during the holiday season is the Red Kettle Campaign, which began on Monday.
A total of 20 kettles – four in Mission and the rest in Abbotsford – are set at businesses such as liquor stores, shopping malls, grocery stores, Costco and Walmart.
They are manned by volunteers, but Lowell said more are still needed to ensure as many shifts as possible can be covered.
Those interested are asked to contact the Red Kettle hotline at 604-309-0660.
Funds will also be raised through the annual Santa Shuffle, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 6 at Ellwood Park, starting at 10 a.m.
Both a 5km run and 1km elf walk will be offered, and participants can register at the event or in advance through santashuffle.ca or the Running Room (#103 – 2070 Sumas Way).
Another annual tradition hosted by the Salvation Army is the Angel Tree in 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 1,000 children are expected to be donated this year.
A new initiative raising money for the Salvation Army this year is the “You Make an Ugly Sweater Look Good” contest.
Individuals and groups are invited to visit Marshalls in the Highstreet shopping complex, snap a photo of themselves in the photo booth and upload the picture to holideous.com by Dec. 19.
While there, they are invited to make a donation to the Red Kettle Campaign.
The top three photos will be invited to Highstreet’s holiday show on Dec. 20, when a panel of judges will select the winner, who will receive a $1,000 gift card.
Donations for the Salvation Army can be made at any kettle, by phone at 604-852-9305, online at careandshare.ca or in person at either the Centre of Hope (34081 Gladys Ave.) or Cascade Community Church (35190 DeLair Rd.)