Penticton’s Salvation Army is set to launch its 2019 Christmas Kettle Campaign today, and this year organizers want to raise $140,000 for the community.
According to Val Fenn, the campaign coordinator with the Penticton Salvation Army, last year the kettles were set up in Summerland, Penticton and Oliver and raised $122,000 for the charity’s food bank in Penticton.
This year, the kettles will be set up in the same communities, as well as for the first time in Keremeos.
Also, new this year, those looking to donate but short on change can use the tap payment feature at the kettles that will be set up in Penticton’s Wal-Mart and the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.
Last year, the kettle program was nearly cancelled after a low turnout of volunteers, but the community quickly stepped up to the call to fill all of the volunteering shifts. This year the charity has seen a great response with around 250 volunteers signed up, but Fenn said they are always looking for more help.
“Most of the volunteers from last year have signed up this year, and they bring friends. And word of mouth helps too,” said Fenn. “(Sign up) is all done on the computer so it’s so easy to sign up and pick your own shifts. We can do training online too. And I try to update the volunteers with how much money we’re making so we can keep them in the loop and keep them excited about it.”
Major Paul Trickett, who was recently transferred by the Salvation Army to the Penticton branch alongside his wife, Lisa, said that all the money stays in the area to benefit those in the community who need “a hand up, not a handout.”
“The more that we bring in, the more that we can do. When we raise money in this community, we’re able to help the community and every dollar goes back into the community,” said Trickett. “I am absolutely privileged to be transferred here to Penticton because I found out that not one kettle volunteer is paid in this community. And that says a lot about Penticton, the only other place I’ve ever been as a Salvation Army officer where I’ve ever had that happen was Kamloops. So that means that everything you put into those pots is going back to our community.”
According to Trickett, it costs a minimum of $40,000 per month to run the Penticton food bank. Last year, 800 families relied on the food bank program and the holiday hamper program.
Penticton city Coun. Judy Sentes attended the launch on Thursday and said she was inspired to see all the youth who volunteered in the program last year. She added that the community needs to “bring them and engage them” so that they will pick up the torch when it comes to volunteering in the future.
Richard Cannings, the South Okanagan West Kootenay Member of Parliament, was also in attendance and highlighted how important the Salvation Army programs are.
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