If a job with flexible hours with no long-term commitment that’s easy and rewarding and can be done with a friend sounds enticing, the Salvation Army has plenty of volunteer positions that need filling for this year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign.
The Salvation Army’s biggest fundraising campaign of the year hits the streets Friday, Nov. 23, and runs until Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Volunteers will stand by kettles at 26 locations from Lantzville to Ladysmith to jingle up donations that will supply more than 1,400 Christmas hampers for local families and help pay for meals, services and programs the Salvation Army provides throughout the year.
This year’s fundraising target is $250,000.
“All the money that we raise from the kettles stays in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area for all who are in need of assistance in some way, shape or form, whether it be needing food, clothing, shelter,” said Dawne Anderson, Salvation Army envoy.
Anderson said the the need in the community keeps growing, from the working poor who find it difficult to cover living expenses and put food on the table to meal programs – the Salvation Army in Nanaimo provides more than 75,000 meals annually – and shelter at the New Hope Centre in downtown Nanaimo.
“People aren’t hungry just at Christmas time. It’s a 365-day concern,” Anderson said.
As kettle campaign kickoff day approaches, the big challenge for the Salvation Army in Nanaimo is getting volunteers out to man the kettles.
Shifts on the kettles run two and a half to three hours at locations at shopping malls, banks, supermarkets and liquor stores.
“There’s over 8,000 volunteer hours that need to be filled,” Anderson said. “It seems that people in November don’t quite get into the volunteering mode, so we have lots of openings from [Nov. 23] until Dec. 1,” Anderson said.
Anderson said there are plenty of ways manning kettles can help get people into the Christmas spirit and volunteers can choose how many hours they want to contribute and how they want to split them up. She cited one regular volunteer who commits to five hours a day and splits the hours up into two shifts.
Local businesses, sports teams and organizations will often fill three-hour shifts by sending multiple staff out for short stints of 30 minutes or so or take on multiple kettle locations and to make kettle shifts fun there’s nothing stopping businesses from competing to see whose kettle bell ringers raise the most cash in a shift.
“We’re happy to do competitions between businesses because we have tallies each day. We can do it between banks, car dealerships. Challenge your families … and say, OK, we’re going to do this location and you that location and we’ll meet up for coffee or hot chocolate afterward,” Anderson said.
Kettle volunteers can gather in groups to sing carols and play musical instruments.
“Nanaimo Concert Band is coming on this year,” Anderson said. “They did last year. They had a combo and they played in Canadian Tire, at Walmart and they just brought the spirit of Christmas. People loved hearing the brass music in the stores.”
To learn more about the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign and to arrange to volunteer for a shift, call Anderson at 250-740-1004 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.