Dawne Anderson, Salvation Army envoy, has donation kettles that date back nearly 100 years in her collection the Salvation Army Church at Eighth Street and Bruce Avenue. The organization has no shortage of kettles, but is short on volunteers to man them as this year’s Christmas Kettle Drive nears the end of its first week. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Salvation Army in dire need of volunteers for Christmas Kettle Campaign

Campaign needs 7,200 volunteer hours to man kettle shifts from Nanaimo to Ladysmith

Dawne Anderson, Salvation Army envoy in Nanaimo, doesn’t get a lot of reprieve from the telephone when the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign gets underway.

This year’s campaign started Nov. 20 and volunteers will be out with kettles 10 and a half hours a day, every day except Sundays, until the drive ends Dec. 24.

The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign originated in San Francisco, Calif., in 1891. Canadian Christmas kettle drives began in Toronto, Ont., in 1903. In 128 years the donation drive has become the Salvation Army’s largest annual fundraiser.

“Our target this year is $550,000,” Anderson said.

The target figure represents donations made to kettles and mailed-in donations received by the end of the campaign.

Organizing volunteers to man kettles to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars takes a lot of juggling from Anderson and her staff. The Christmas tradition of people standing by kettles, jingling sleigh bells or singing Christmas carols will require more than 7,200 volunteer hours to man the nearly 2,900 kettle shifts throughout the campaign in the Nanaimo area.

But volunteers are a fluid commodity. In a span of about 30 minutes Monday afternoon Anderson’s phone rarely stopped ringing with calls from kettle volunteers who completed their shifts, but their replacements hadn’t turned up, or from others who couldn’t make their shifts. In one case a volunteer committed to several kettle shifts had to bow out because of a serious medical condition. With each call Anderson’s volunteer schedule, maintained on database software, must be revised and instructions relayed through staff to deal with each situation.

Interspersed are calls from individuals and local businesses offering to help, but the needs of each volunteer vary per individual. Some can only take kettle shifts at indoor locations or are only available certain times of day on specific days. Others want locations suitable for children or close to home. Some can take multiple shifts throughout the campaign. Others just one. A volunteer schedule sheet printed out in the morning likely won’t look much like it did by mid afternoon and this year the kettle drive scheduling seems to be taking longer than normal to stabilize.

“We have 25 locations, from north Nanaimo to Ladysmith, four shifts a day, from 10:30 a.m. till 9 p.m.,” Anderson said. “We need as many [volunteers] as we can get, because it’s a slower start. Every year seems to be a slow start, but it just seems slower this year. I’m not sure why.”

The process of drawing donations might seem difficult, but effort put in to getting them helps people locally. Money donated in Nanaimo stays in the community to support Salvation Army social service programs that help individuals and families through housing and shelter programs, meals programs and food banks, substance abuse rehabilitation programs, Christmas assistance that includes food hampers and toys for families, and more. The Salvation Army also responds to disasters and offers a wide variety of other services for the communities in which it operates.

To raise the money to finance all of the Salvation Army’s services the organization needs hundreds of volunteers.

“Just as many as we can get,” Anderson said. “Just keep phoning.”

To volunteer for this year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign, call Anderson at 250-740-1004 or e-mail kettles@sananaimo.org.

Another way to contribute to this year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign is to buy a little snow tree. Called Snow Trees, the real trees come in their own little ceramic pots and are covered with a cotton flocking to make them look as if they’re dusted in snow. They can stand in as tiny Christmas trees for people with apartments with extremely limited space or even as something Christmassy on a desk at work. Once they outgrow their pots, the little evergreens can be planted outdoors where they will grow up to be 4.5 metres in height.

The trees can be purchased for $12 each and sale proceeds support the Salvation Army.

Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Decorative Snow Trees, flocked to look like they’re dusted in snow, are available through the Salvation Army for $12. Sales support Salvation Army community programs and services. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

RDN will look at collecting old bins once automated waste collection starts in the fall

Residents outside Nanaimo city limits to see new waste pickup model in October

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

Volunteers on Vancouver Island checking in on seniors during pandemic

United Way reports 2,600 phone check-ins and 1,300 ‘virtual visits’

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

COVID-19: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

Sales allowed to other licensees that can reopen

Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Most Read