Christmas kettle campaigns in Okanagan, Kamloops doing well, despite nationwide drop in donations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Christmas kettle campaigns in Okanagan, Kamloops doing well, despite nationwide drop in donations

Image Credit: Contributed

The Salvation Army nationwide may be reporting a significant loss this month for its largest fundraiser, but in the Thompson-Okanagan the churches are on track to meet or even exceed their fundraising goals.

“Our Christmas campaign has gone very well here in Kelowna. We won’t have final numbers for a little while yet but we are on target to not only meet our goal but exceed it for this season,” said Darryl Burry, executive director with the city’s Salvation Army.

The $650,000 budget for the kettle campaign was set before the pandemic began.

“We were anticipating to struggle this year to meet the target,” he said, adding they were surprised to find that they will meet it.

“We’re looking like we’re going to exceed that number and be able to meet that increased demand which we’re grateful for,” Burry said.

The Salvation Army has served more than 700 households since the beginning of the month, about 200 more than last year, he said. The few fundraisers that were held this year “smashed” previous records, Burry said.

“We have seen such an amazing outpouring of generosity from the community this season and it’s needed," he said.

Nationally, The Salvation Army is seeing an alarming increase in the number of Canadians seeking support. In some locations, requests are two to five times higher than last year. As a result, the organization nationally is issuing an urgent plea for donations to help them meet their $23 million Christmas Kettle Campaign goal.

With only 50 per cent of the goal reached, the organization is calling on Canadians who can help to consider digging deep, as every donation will give the gift of hope to someone in need, according to a Salvation Army press release.

In Kelowna and Penticton, kettle campaigns were operating with roughly half the kettles due to the pandemic.

“I saw there was a shift in the Kelowna area when I look back to the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire and I think that event pulled the community in such a way that since then we have seen (the community) rise up time after time for those in need,” Burry said.

Kelowna has been listed by GoFundMe as the second most generous city in the country, he said.

READ MORE: Kelowna second most generous city in Canada, says GoFundMe

“This affirms the giving and supporting nature of community,” he said.

Penticton is also reporting a great fundraising season despite the reduction of kettles.

Paul Trickett, officer and pastor and Alan Madsen, business manager for The Salvation Army Penticton, reported donations are about 30 per cent higher than last year as of Dec. 23.

In larger centres in the east, the non-profits haven’t been able to hold kettle campaigns, which contributes to the drop Canada wide, Trickett said.

“Our governments helped us stay open, and that’s a large reason. I will add that our mail-out campaign is down but the face-to-face giving at our kettles is blowing us away,” he said.

Trickett also thinks Okanagan residents are more neighbourly, having been a part of The Salvation Army in cities across Canada.

“I think the Okanagan still care about their neighbours,” he said.

At the Penticton location, they’re giving out between 8,000 to 12,000 pounds a food a week and assist other food banks in the South Okanagan, Madsen said.

“The demand has been almost steady… people were getting money for the government… but we’re expecting the demand to increase dramatically once all this money stops. We know the economy is struggling, the service industry has been hit really hard and we know we’re in an area that’s dependent on the service industry,” he said.

The organization, which serves as Penticton’s food bank, sees six to eight new families a week registering for its services but is expecting the need for food to increase.

READ MORE: How the Salvation Army rescued the local kettle campaign

In Kamloops, core officer Cory Fifield said The Salvation Army is close to hitting its goal of $260,000 and had no idea what the season would look like with Alberta, parts of Ontario and Manitoba being unable to hold in-person kettle campaigns this year. The Kamloops location is operating with two-thirds of its regular kettle campaigners.

Volunteer challenges amid the pandemic also continue to pose problems for the non-profits, Fifield said. They served roughly 200 households this year and only had 100 last year, but the adopt-a-family program donations have been up this year as businesses donate to families in need in lieu of Christmas parties.

In Vernon, Neil Thompson, auxiliary lieutenant for The Salvation Army, said they've already significantly surpassed their $500,000 target goal and are anticipating to raise about $100,000 more than expected.

"It's incredible," he said. He doesn't know of a time where they've reached their goal for the Christmas season.

"To exceed it this year was such a blessing," Thompson said.

— This story was updated at 11:16 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020 to include a comment from the Vernon Salvation Army.

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