Jingle bells are filling the doorways of local shops, heralding the Christmas season and a time of giving.
The Foothills Salvation Army kettle campaign got underway on Nov. 17 and will run until Dec. 23, every day except Sundays. Kettles are located in Okotoks at Sobeys and Walmart, and beginning Dec. 11 at Costco, and High River locations include Co-Op, No Frills and Sobeys.
Salvation Army Lt. Chad Cole said the kettle campaign is the only time the Salvation Army actively fundraises all year.
“This is the one time of year we go out asking for money,” said Cole. “The money that’s raised supports us for the entire year, as well as our thrift store (in High River).”
Last year the kettle campaign brought in $112,000 and the goal this year is to match or beat that amount, he said.
Funds raised go to the Salvation Army Food Bank in High River, the emergency disaster services program and social assistance programs, he said.
Donations made to the thrift store and the food bank also help throughout the year, he said.
“The kettles make enough, as long as we continue to have the phenomenal support we’ve had from our community,” said Cole. “All sorts of different community groups and churches and service clubs, they often do fundraisers or food drives. The community support has just been amazing.
“Really it’s only by partnering with all these different people and groups and organizations that we’re able to do what we do.”
He said the food bank also partners with others in the region, like the Okotoks Food Bank, and Christmas campaigns like toy drives in Turner Valley and Black Diamond to help give families hampers for the holidays. They also run a Christmas hamper program in High River, he said.
“Basically anywhere in the Foothills area that doesn’t have a food bank or access to toys, we will help,” said Cole.
Last year the Salvation Army was able to help 350 families have a merry Christmas, and he said they’re hoping to be able to do the same in 2017. Aside from Christmas, Cole said the Salvation Army kettles also contribute to other programs run by the organization, like the emergency disaster services program.
Through the program, first responders are assisted through initiatives like feeding them when they’re on an extended call, he said.
“People got a little bit of a taste of it back when we had the flood in High River,” said Cole. “Our emergency disaster services were out in full force.”
He said the Foothills Salvation Army would like to see a more local operation in order to support local firefighters and police right at home whenever they may need it.
“It’s a way for us to say thanks and give back to them,” said Cole.
The organization also provides financial assistance to people having difficulties making ends meet. It might be paying for a pricey prescription or helping someone get by during a tough month, he said.
“We’ve got a process and a person they can come and talk to who will help sort those types of details out and get them back on track,” said Cole.