Sal­va­tion Army aim­ing to raise $220,000 dur­ing an­nual Christ­mas Cam­paign

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - SCOTT AN­DER­SON SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

The Sal­va­tion Army bells started ring­ing for the first time on Satur­day as the Swift Cur­rent Sal­va­tion Army be­gan their 2018 Christ­mas Cam­paign.

A kick off event was held at the Swift Cur­rent Mall on No­vem­ber 24 to be­gin an in­ten­sive 30 day fundrais­ing drive as they take aim at a $220,000 fundrais­ing goal. These funds sup­port the Sal­va­tion Army in de­liv­er­ing sup­ports to in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies dur­ing the Christ­mas sea­son, but it also sup­ports the year round op­er­a­tions of the Food Bank.

Last year they raised a to­tal of $231,775, which sur­passed their 2017 goal of $215,000. In 2016 they col­lected a record to­tal of $249,000.

“I think on a per capita ba­sis, Swift Cur­rent is one of most giv­ing com­mu­ni­ties I’ve ever seen, or ever been in­volved in, or even heard about across Canada. I think it’s so ex­cit­ing. But they also give to so many other agen­cies,” Swift Cur­rent Sal­va­tion Army Ma­jor Don Grad said dur­ing the open­ing.

In Swift Cur­rent, Sal­va­tion Army ket­tles are si­t­u­ated at The Mir­a­cle Room, along with Wal­mart, the Pi­o­neer Co-op, Phar­masave, and the Liquor Store.

The Mir­a­cle Room also hosts the An­gel Tree, where there are 98 tags that sup­port­ers can take and pur­chase one spe­cific Christ­mas gift re­quested by a child.

Ma­jor Grad notes that the 105th an­nual Christ­mas cam­paign in Swift Cur­rent has al­ways been a grass­roots giv­ing cam­paign, and he es­ti­mates their av­er­age do­na­tion is $100 or less.

“Those $20 dona­tions, they are all part of what makes it hap­pen,” he said. “That to­tal is built on $100, $20, $5, the two dol­lar coin dropped in the ket­tle, it all adds up.”

He is also grate­ful for the cor­po­rate dona­tions which pushes their cam­paign to­tals even higher, in­clud­ing a large $50,000 do­na­tion from SWT and other gen­er­ous sup­port­ers.

“This time of year I just walk around say­ing ‘thank you Je­sus’. I’ll be in the build­ing and I’ll see a bunch of vol­un­teers do­ing some­thing…it all comes to­gether.”

He said the over­whelm­ing sup­port from the com­mu­nity is some­thing they do ev­ery­thing they can to show their grat­i­tude for.

“I al­ways want to say thank you. I don’t want the com­mu­nity to ever think we take them for granted. In a way we ex­pect we’re go­ing to meet our goal, but we don’t take peo­ple for granted, or sup­port­ers. We re­ally want to say thank you. We ap­pre­ci­ate you. Be­cause you help us do what we do.”

Swift Cur­rent Mayor De­nis Per­rault has seen the im­por­tance of the work of the Sal­va­tion Army through his vol­un­teer­ing ef­forts dur­ing their Mon­day sup­per pro­gram.

“Sal­va­tion Army is a very im­por­tant or­ga­ni­za­tion across the coun­try, and a re­ally spe­cial one here in Swift,” Mayor Per­rault said at Satur­day’s launch event. “You’ll hear the bells ring­ing, you see the ket­tles all over the City. But there is a need year round.”

He said the Christ­mas Cam­paign is im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity be­cause of the wide spec­trum of peo­ple it sup­ports.

“It’s fam­i­lies, it’s moms, it’s dads, it’s kids, it’s grand­mas and grand­pas. It is a wide swath of de­mo­graphic across our com­mu­nity and the South­west. We have an op­por­tu­nity to help those peo­ple, and there’s lots of dif­fer­ent ways that you can do it. I’d urge any­one, if given a chance, to please come on out. I know you’d have fun. It is very well or­ga­nized and I re­ally en­joy help­ing out with. And I love hear­ing the bells, in the malls and in Phar­masave, the liquor stores, and all over the city. Hear­ing those bells warms my heart and it means its Christ­mas time.”

Ma­jors Don and El­iz­a­beth Grad and gear­ing up for their fourth and fi­nal Christ­mas Cam­paign in Swift Cur­rent. They will be re­tir­ing in the com­mu­nity in June to con­clude 35 years as of­fi­cers with the Sal­va­tion Army.

“It’s our fourth Christ­mas, and our last one, and we hope to go out with a bang,” he ex­plained.

“It feels spe­cial, but at the same time each year we’ve al­ways tried to do our best. To be good stew­ards. To be care­ful that we do the best job with ham­pers.

“Be­tween ham­per ap­pli­ca­tions fin­ish­ing and then the ham­pers go­ing out, there’s ac­tu­ally a bunch of work to get it all or­ga­nized. And the same thing with the toys. Each year we try to do our best to make sure we do it to the best of our abil­i­ties. And so as we ap­proach this year, we come at it with that same goal - we want to do our best.”

He shared that the sup­port the Christ­mas Cam­paign pro­vides to peo­ple de­liv­ers re­lief at a time of year when peo­ple need it the most. He shared the story of two in­di­vid­u­als who have of­fered to vol­un­teer af­ter re­ceiv­ing sup­port in past years.

“Of course there’s a num­ber of peo­ple we help, who just be­cause of life’s cir­cum­stances are on So­cial Ser­vices,” he noted. “And each year we help peo­ple who have lost jobs, and of course with the down­turn in the oil a num­ber of years ago. I re­mem­ber one lady, she was in tears when we gave her the ham­per. They were al­ways the ones that al­ways put the $100 in the ket­tles.

“This year, (San­dra Brong, Com­mu­nity and Fam­ily Ser­vices Co­or­di­na­tor) has told me about two fam­i­lies in par­tic­u­lar, who we’ve helped for the last cou­ple of years,” he ex­plained. “But they came back in and they wanted to talk to her specif­i­cally to say ‘thank you for help­ing us. That made Christ­mas re­ally good for us and our kids. And now we’re back on our feet, we’ve got our jobs again.’ And they said ‘How can we give back? You helped us, we re­ally un­der­stand it in a new way.’”

“It had hit them in a new way just how spe­cial it was when you needed it to re­ceive some­thing.”

“I just thought it was in­ter­est­ing they came back. And they specif­i­cally said to Sandy, ‘you helped us. It re­ally meant some­thing. We’re back on our feet. We want to give back some how.’

“To me that’s re­ally cool. That re­minds me that there are a lot of peo­ple we help, and it’s one or two Christ­mases. And it’s pow­er­ful for them. And we’re do­ing it be­cause we want to share the love of God with peo­ple. That God loves them. And we can’t do ev­ery­thing for ev­ery­one of course, but we kind of do what we can for those that we’re able to.”

HOW CAN YOU HELP

Sup­port­ers of the Sal­va­tion Army Christ­mas Cam­paign can lend their sup­port through their time or dona­tions.

Vol­un­teer ket­tle bell ringers are needed dur­ing the com­ing weeks lead­ing up to Christ­mas.

“This time of year that’s a big need we have. Again, we get great sup­port…but if some­one would like to vol­un­teer a cou­ple of hours that would be a per­fect thing that we al­ways need,” Ma­jor Don Grad said.

In­di­vid­u­als who can do­nate the time for a two hour shift at a ket­tle can leave their name with the Sal­va­tion Army of­fice at 306-778-0515.

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