Salvation Army launches Christmas campaign in Swift Current
The official launch of the Salvation Army's 105th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current took place with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the opening of the Miracle Room with angel tree in the Swift Current Mall, Nov. 24.
Major Don Grad noted that the Christmas campaign is always an exciting and busy time for the Salvation Army in Swift Current.
“Swift Current is an amazing community,” he said. “We don't know of any other community across Canada on a per capita basis that supports the Army like Swift Current, and it is so exciting. This time of year, my staff know, I just wander around saying thank you Jesus, just for the provision and for the people and everything we get that help make what we do happen.”
The Christmas campaign is the Salvation Army's main fundraising event in the community. The goal of this year's campaign is to raise $220,000 to support the food bank and other activities.
“The funds we raise now are what will basically run the food bank for the rest of the year,” he said. “Now of course we get donations year round, but this is our main kick and it's our main source for everything from heat and light and all that sort of stuff that we need to make the food bank and the operation run.”
The 2018 fundraising target is slightly higher than last year's campaign goal of $215,000. Community support helped the Salvation Army to exceed that goal and the final amount raised was $231,775.
“Two years ago we went over by $30,000 and we were able to use those funds to put in two wish list items, a walk-in freezer and a commercial dishwasher in our kitchen,” he said. “So we can now serve our community meal on real plates. Those have been installed and if we go way over again, there are other wish list items that we'll come up with or we have, and we want to make use of what we get in the best way we can.”
Last year volunteers helped to prepare and distribute 284 Christmas food hampers, which provided support to 299 adults and 258 children or youth.
“My sense would be that we're about similar to past years,” he said about this year's need in the community. “When we get the final numbers in, we'll know if we're up, down or whatever. There are some people of course who for any number of circumstances are on social services and we see them year after year. It's just circumstances of life sometimes, but we do see a floating number that come and go.”
People who received Christmas hampers during the past two years have contacted the Salvation Army to find out how they can help others this year.
“So it's exciting to hear that there are success stories,” he said. “That we've been able to help them, but now they're back on the run and they want to help and continue the gift as it goes along. So we are so excited to be able to do this and to be a part of this community.”
The two-week application period for Christmas hampers ended on Nov. 29. This will give staff and volunteers enough time to organize the hampers, which will be distributed in the week before Christmas.
The closing date for the donation of toys to children in need is Dec. 12. Anyone who wants to buy a toy for a child can take a tag from the angel tree in the Miracle Room, which is located near Safeway inside the Swift Current Mall.
These tags have the wishes of children for Christmas, and the toys will be distributed as part of a family's food hamper.
Volunteers are needed to ring the bells at the Christmas kettles, which are located at the Miracle Room, Walmart, Pioneer Co-op, and Pharmasave. There will also be a kettle at the liquor store starting Dec. 1.
There will be opportunities to support the Christmas campaign at two upcoming events in Swift Current. The teddy bear toss takes place at the Swift Current Broncos game. Dec. 1. People can throw teddy bears, toques and mitts on the ice after the Broncos score their first goal against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The CP holiday train will make an evening stop in Swift Current at 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 6. The Salvation Army will provide hot chocolate to those in attendance, and there will be a truck on site to receive food donations. Musical entertainment will be provided by Terri Clark, Sierra Noble and Kelly Prescott.
Anyone interested in volunteering for a Christmas kettle shift can call Arlene at 306-741-1714 or the Salvation Army office at 306-778-0515 for more information about volunteer opportunities and ways to support the Christmas campaign.
Duane Ring volunteered for a shift at the Christmas kettle in the Swift Current Mall, Nov. 24.