Yellowknife's Salvation Army celebrated a successful Christmas Kettle Campaign as it looked towards a possible expansion of the program this December.
With $42,886 raised at four locations in 2018 – exceeding the goal of $42,000 – a major local business has requested the Sally Ann set up a kettle location this year.
“We’re juggling around the idea [of a fifth location] after being approached by Co-op,” said Corps Leader Jason Brinson, of the Alberta and Northern Territories division.
“We’ve collected data points from last year and are looking at expanding by a location.”
However, it will come down to the availability of volunteers to ring the bells at the new kettle while still being able to staff existing locations at the two liquor stores, Walmart, and Canadian Tire.
“We exceeded the kettle goal this year in large part due to the generosity of the community, but also because we had very few gaps in the [volunteer] schedule,” Brinson said at a volunteer appreciation event on Sunday at the Army’s headquarters.
“We are so appreciative of you, the volunteers. We couldn’t do what we do without you.”
Commemorative certificates were handed out to kettle volunteers at the celebration, including (full disclosure) to the author of this story. One of those people was John Westergreen, one of the longest-serving volunteers.
“I love the Salvation Army,” he told the crowd. “And I really love looking people in the eye and saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to them.
“For me, ringing the bells is the start of the Christmas season. We are neighbours. We must remember what we are doing here.”
Brinson received praise from some in the group for bringing a new sense of organization and innovation to the annual kettle drive, which traces its origins to the latter part of the 19th century in San Francisco, California.
Regional Corps Leader Jason Brinson presents a commemorative certificate to volunteer Daphne Rice at the Volunteer Appreciation & Celebration on Sunday. James O’Connor/Cabin Radio
The 2018 Yellowknife drive featured point-of-sale debit card machines, plus online registration for volunteers.
Money raised in the drive goes primarily to the Christmas hamper program for Yellowknife and communities across the NWT.
Exceeding the goal in 2018 allowed the organization to provide to more than 480 households. Toys were also given to more than 240 children over the holiday season.
The highest-performing location in the 2018 drive? Walmart.