THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Iconic Salvation Army fundraiser faces increased demand, challenges due to COVID-19

Charity says it has not seen an increase in demand like this for decades

The Salvation Army is launching its annual Christmas kettle drive facing what it says is a level of need not seen since the Second World War — even as COVID-19 makes fundraising more difficult.

The iconic red kettles will start appearing in malls, grocery stores and other establishments across the country on Monday as the Sally Ann seeks to raise $23 million this year to help Canadians in need.

Funds raised through the campaign remain in the community where they are donated, with the money going to pay for Christmas hampers, meals and clothing along with drug-recovery programs and training.

Salvation Army spokesman John Murray says that target is 10 per cent more than in previous years — even though the charity has received five times the normal number of requests for help since the pandemic began.

“We’ve not seen the increase in in demand for assistance like this since post-World War Two,” Murray said. “That’s incredible when we consider that.”

Even meeting that modestly increased fundraising target could be a challenge, however, as COVID-19 threatens to wreak havoc on the Salvation Army’s normal way of doing business.

That starts with great uncertainty around exactly how many kettles will actually be out in the community as pandemic-related lockdowns in different parts of the country keep malls and other businesses closed.

“I think of Manitoba where we’re not going to be able to have Christmas kettles out, at least until the middle of December,” he said. “There are parts and pockets of Quebec that’s the same way.”

The Sally Ann is also facing a potential shortage of volunteers as many of those who have typically helped the fundraising drive are older Canadians who are more at risk from COVID-19.

While the charity is providing volunteers with personal protective equipment as well as training to ensure they stay safe, Murray says the actual recruitment of Canadians to help is a challenge.

“The actual recruitment, we’re certainly concerned about that,” he said.

“Annually, we would put out about 2,000 kettle locations across Canada during the holiday season. It remains to be seen whether we’re going to be able to have all those kettle locations filled this year.”

The Salvation Army isn’t the only charity facing challenges; many have previously raised concerns about a lack of volunteers and dried up fundraising due to COVID-19 even as demand for help skyrockets.

The Sally Ann says there has been a 19-per-cent increase in the number of people visiting the charity this year because of delayed wages, while the number saying they are homeless has doubled since 2019.

Like many other organizations, it is hoping that Canadians unable to donate in person will do so online at FilltheKettle.com or by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Charity and DonationsCoronavirusSalvation Army

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

Just Posted

March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)
Editorial: International Women’s Day can inspire us to recommit to equality

Let’s call out sexism, amplify feminism and keep working toward equality

Police in Nanaimo are turning to the public for help identifying two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt at a Nicol Street apartment building. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP looking for two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt

Security camera snapped images in Nicol Street apartment building parking lot

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 case reported at Nanaimo’s Mountain View school

School district advises of March 2-3 exposure dates

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Island Health opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

(News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo school district headed toward 26-per cent overcapacity in next 10 years

Using B.C. Assessment and municipal stats, consultant projects more than 18,300 students in 2030

A sports car crashed into a lamp standard and rolled down the hill behind Country Club Centre mall on Sunday night. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Sports car crashes into lamp post, rolls down hill behind Nanaimo mall

Driver uninjured in incident Sunday night on Norwell Drive

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read