The Salvation Army in Smithers is looking for volunteers to staff its annual Christmas kettle campaign.
“We’re desperate for volunteers,” said Adam Marshall, the Army’s community ministry director for the Bulkley Valley, which includes Smithers and area.
Volunteers are asked to sign up for two-hour shifts by visiting the Thrift Store at Main and Alfred or calling Marshall at 250-847-1059.
“The generosity of our volunteers is awesome,” Marshall said. “We have lots of shifts covered, but because we have multiple locations the need for more volunteers is great.”
The four locations in Smithers this year are Safeway, No Frills, Bulkley Valley Wholesale and Canadian Tire.
At times when there isn’t a kettle manned by a volunteer, donations marked “Christmas kettle campaign” can be dropped off at the store, Marshall said.
The campaign got a big boost from Tim Hortons Nov. 19. Every year, the restaurant offers a free cookie to customers in exchange for a donation. This year it raised $2,709 for the charity.
Tim Close, the owner of the franchise, said every penny they collect goes directly to the Salvation Army food bank.
“I think there’s a need in the community to feed people who are less fortunate and can genuinely use it,” he said. “And we’re happy to donate to a local thing that donates to people in their community so [customers] can feel like their money is going to help people where it counts.”
Marshall said the annual contribution is huge for his organization.
“It means the world,” he said. “It will be put to towards some of our outreach for the Christmas season. I think a lot of our plan is to put it towards our Christmas hamper program and anything else in the season we need some extra funding for.
“It’s super generous of Tim Hortons to come out and offer their support in this way.”
Kettle donations support a wide variety of Salvation Army efforts in the Bulkley Valley.
In Houston, the Army is preparing to move its thrift store to the Houston mall with renovations ongoing in anticipation of being finished early in the new year.
The Army will also run its food bank from that location and a new feature will be offering light refreshments to food bank recipients, Marshall said.
Also, new to the Army’s Bulkley Valley services is a multi-purpose community support vehicle.
One of its tasks is picking up food items at or near their sell-by date from area grocery stores, but the Army also wants to offer refreshments and services from it one day a week in Houston and one day a week in Smithers, Marshall said.
“We’re very excited to have this to respond to the community,” he said.
Its multi-purpose design and features includes being used during emergencies such as fires or floods to support volunteers and first responders.
“For that, what we would do is respond to requests for assistance,” said Marshall.
For example, the Army advised it was available if needed during the extensive ground search for Laureen Fabian, the Houston woman who went missing Oct. 28, Marshall noted.
Files from Rod Link