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Salvation Army volunteers jingle bells in Nanaimo as part of Christmas Kettle campaign

New tech makes giving easier at donation locations from north Nanaimo to Ladysmith
Salvation Army envoy Dawne Anderson is looking for businesses to place electronic counter kettles that use tap technology to take donations. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)

The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Drive is in full swing for the season in Nanaimo and while volunteers jingle bells to draw donations into the kettles, the Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers who are able to help.

The local kettle campaign started Nov. 18, runs until Dec. 24, and is the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser.

“We’ll be out every day until Dec. 24 except for Sundays,” said Dawne Anderson, Salvation Army envoy.

Kettles will be set up at 19 locations from Save-On-Foods Woodgrove in north Nanaimo to the 49th Parallel Grocery in Ladysmith. A new location this year is Best Buy at Country Club Centre.

“The nice thing is we’re getting new people, but we still need a lot of volunteers,” Anderson said. ” A lot of our folks are going south, like our snowbirds, so we’re in need of those who are not heading away.”

Kettle shifts are two and a half hours, from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. until Dec. 1, and then from Dec. 2-24 there will be night shifts, too. Multiple people from a business, for example, can sign up and share a shift amongst multiple people. Anderson said a lot of local sports teams have stepped up to support this year’s kettle drive and said the benefits from manning kettle shifts include learning the value and experiencing the fun of doing community service work and how to engage with the members of the public.

“It’s great. They’re all taking a chunk of time and it’s great community service work for them, and awareness…” she said. ‘The big thing we’re trying to remind folks is it’s the eye contact. When you’re standing at the kettle, eye contact is great. Leave your cell phones in your pocket … it’s the one-on-one contact and thanking people or saying merry Christmas.”

Anderson said there are families in Nanaimo who have made taking kettle shifts a family holiday tradition, using the time on the shifts as an opportunity for parents and their children or siblings to grab some quality family bonding time.

Anderson said this year’s kettle drive goal in Nanaimo is $315,000. Last year’s kettle drive in Nanaimo raised $295,000, with more than $50,000 of that total donated via tap card technology. The new tap machines offer three donation choices of $20, $10 or $5, and Anderson said that resulted in a sharp rise in tap donations in the 2021 kettle drive over 2020’s tap donations when the machines featured a single denomination option.

Related events happening in Nanaimo during this year’s kettle drive include the Give and Go at Steve Marshall Ford on Friday, Dec. 2. The event runs 5-7 p.m. when people can drop off clothing, non-perishable food and cash donations.

The Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk happen Dec. 10 and includes a one-kilometre walk or five-kilometre run and is a fundraiser for the Salvation Army sponsored by Running Room. Participants can register as individuals or teams and raise pledges from people willing to sponsor them in the event. To learn more and to register, visit

Nanaimo Concert Band performs a Christmas Charity Concert at Beban Park social centre on Dec. 11. It’s a benefit concert supporting the Salvation Army. Admission is by non-perishable food items or monetary donations. Performance time is 2:30 p.m.

On Walmart Matching Day, Dec. 17, the company will match kettle donations raised throughout the day at its store.

To volunteer for kettle shifts, contact the Nanaimo Salvation Army at 250-8240324 or e-mail

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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