The Salvation Army predicts it will have to support more people than ever this Christmas due to inflation, rising cost of living and other economic factors.
The Salvation Army is preparing for its annual Christmas drives and urging residents to volunteer and donate to ensure those battling the rising cost of living can have a joyful holiday.
The application and interview process for the Christmas Food Baskets begins on Monday, November 14 and closes on Friday, December 2. Interviews are held at the office of the non-profit organization First Avenue Northeast.
There is an important process to ensure applicants receive a basket, which involves determining whether families need toys for the children, Lt. Lester Ward explained. If so, parents may need to visit the Salvation Army church to purchase an age- or gender-appropriate toy.
Last year, the Salvation Army approved 345 basket requests, which helped 745 people, including 312 children, Ward said. The charity expects to see an even greater need this year due to inflation, rising living costs and more people requiring bagged breakfasts.
The Salvation Army launched its weekday breakfast program in January and distributed nearly 170 packages that month. In September, the association distributed more than 600 bags per month.
“Initially the numbers were a bit lower…but as people have realized…now we are somewhere between 700 and 800 who come every month looking for breakfast,” did he declare.
“So if that gives any indication of what an increase in need will look like, it will (also) probably give us some indication of what Christmas will be like.”
A bagged breakfast is worth $4.50, so if the Salvation Army distributes 700 a month, that equals $3,150. Therefore, Ward said, every dollar raised in every Christmas campaign – including the kettles – is vitally important.
“We want to express our sincere thanks to everyone,” he added. “It’s a team effort…and we appreciate all that everyone does for us and with us, so that we can share the love of Jesus with others in the community and let them know that ‘there is hope.”
The Stocking campaign will launch on Wednesday November 16th and will run until Wednesday December 28th.
This is a joint effort with Moose Jaw Express/MooseJawToday.com, where the Express newspaper will insert envelopes in the Nov. 23 issue and donors can either bring them to Sally Anne’s downtown office or to post.
Last year, the Stocking campaign raised $5,000, which is the same goal this year.
The Kettle campaign kicks off Monday, Nov. 28 at the Co-op grocery store at 10 a.m. One kettle will remain there, while seven more will be distributed to other locations in the community.
“The support from the community, the volunteers who have volunteered their time in the past, we so appreciate the resources that people are allowing so that we can get these kettles out,” Ward said.
This campaign has a “great need” for volunteers who can donate two to three hours per shift, he continued. If the kettles are off longer, they can collect more money and enable the Salvation Army to provide more services.
Ward also challenged companies to spend an entire day volunteering at a site.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 306-692-5899.
“Yes, the kettle campaign is really what allows us to do what we do in Moose Jaw, Assiniboia and outside (all year round)…” he added. “It’s our major event every year.”
The Canadian Tire toy collection takes place from Thursday December 1st to Saturday December 3rd. Individuals or businesses can drop off new, unboxed toys at the store, while the Salvation Army will use those toys for baskets.
Throwing teddy bear
The teddy bear draw will take place on Friday, December 9 at 7 p.m. during the Moose Jaw Warriors home game. Fans can bring in unwrapped stuffed animals and throw them on the ice when the team scores.
“In some cases, there are people bringing in new, unboxed toys. Obviously, we wouldn’t want them thrown on the ice,” Ward laughed.
The Salvation Army is sincerely grateful, grateful and thankful for what everyone is doing for it, he added. He is eager to work with everyone as he plans to meet the greatest needs he has ever seen.