Yellowknife’s Salvation Army is seeing donations for their annual kettle campaign go way up from last year, having reached 85 per cent of their goal of $42,000.
The close to $36,000 gathered this year so far is $5,300 more than the organization brought in at the same time last year. The donations stay in the territory, Cadet Jason Brinson said, and go to funding community service projects including 400 Christmas hampers given out in Yellowknife and some NWT communities.
The Christmas hampers are filled with food, some donated and some bought locally, for a Christmas dinner. Apart from the hampers, the kettle dollars go to hampers which are given out year-round, as well as vouchers for the thrift store, showers and laundry facilities.
“We find that people, sometimes, have to make a decision between whether they have food and whether they pay the hydro or any other utility bill and sometimes it’s tough,” Brinson said of the need that exists.
Yet while the donations are flowing in, Brinson said he’s facing a serious need for volunteers on the last weekend of the kettle campaign. He needs 18 hours covered – volunteers normally work a two-hour shift. Anyone can volunteer, he said, they don’t require criminal records checks for this role and people can even bring their children along provided they can handle a few hours of standing at a kettle.
The idea for the kettle originated in 1891, when Captain Joseph McFee had the idea to set up a kettle to help those facing poverty in San Francisco. He recalled seeing a kettle set up in Liverpool, where people could toss coins, and he placed one at the Oakland ferry landing encouraging people to “keep the pot boiling.” The first Canadian kettle was set up in 1903 in Toronto.
Community groups, faith groups and avid volunteers volunteer for the the campaign, Brinson said, as do students. At 1pm Friday, students will be forming a human food chain from St. Patrick High School to the Salvation Army Resource Centre on 45 Street. The students will be shuttling boxes of they have collected over the Christmas holiday, with many hands making light work.