Festive cheer started in Trail this week with the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Kettle Campaign launching Thursday at Ferraro Foods.
Volunteers are ringing in donations for the campaign that aims to raise money and awareness for the continued need for social service programs and resources for vulnerable individuals.
Considered Canada’s largest and most recognizable annual charitable event, the campaign keeps all dollars in the community where the dollars are raised.
Last year about $30,000 was raised for Greater Trail and this year Major Wilf Harbin is hoping to top up funds with a goal of $33,000.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without our volunteers,” he said.
Dolly Pressacco is one of the 100 locals signed up to bring cheer this year.
“I’ll be ringing a bell and singing Christmas carols if I have to,” said Pressacco, who has spent the last 10 years helping with the local campaign.
The Trail woman spent 32 years working at Shoppers Drug Mart in Trail before clocking out as a cashier and in as a dedicated volunteer.
Her love for the Salvation Army started when she got married there in Prince Rupert in 1954 and has continued to grow each year she witnesses how much the organization does for the community and its people.
“It doesn’t matter what community you go to or live in, you’re always welcome there,” she said.
The Christmas Kettle Campaign kicked off at Ferraro Foods with a donation of $500 in gift certificates from the grocery store and a contribution from Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.
Volunteers will be collecting donations inside Waneta Plaza, outside of Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart and the BC Liquor Store every Thursday Friday and Saturday until Dec. 9 when shifts will run regularly Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve. There will be a final push at Ferraro’s in Trail the last few days leading up to Dec. 24.
All donations received will go to supporting Kate’s Kitchen, Family Services, the Salvation Army Food Bank and Christmas Hamper program.
“More people need help this time of year as far as the food bank and of course the money raised goes toward the hamper distribution,” said Reta Moores, campaign coordinator. “It’s important that we have the kettles going because we need to feed all of these people who need help.”
Kate’s Kitchen will be turned into Santa’s headquarters with food hampers assembled and gifts assigned to girls and boys under 16 years old.
Those in need are treated to the real deal. The hampers are stuffed with items such as canned soups, beans and cookies and meat and fresh produce gift certificates to local grocery stores.
While the Christmas hampers contain specialty items like cranberry sauce and gift certificates to give families the traditional dining experience, giving is not a deed picked up only once a year.
Kate’s Kitchen coordinator Linda Radtke expects about 400 different hampers will be made this year, keeping with last year’s numbers, and some of these families will also rely on donated gifts for their children. Residents can play Santa by picking a tag from a Christmas gift tree set up so far at Shoppers and Ferraro’s. A gift donation can later be dropped under the Christmas tree unwrapped.
The Salvation Army also runs a family sponsor program, where the organization matches donators with a family in need.
“If it wasn’t for the Christmas hampers and the Salvation Army a lot of people would be sitting at home with nothing for Christmas, especially if they have children with no toys, with no food and that’s not something that we want to see,” said Radtke. “We want to make sure that everybody is looked after at Christmas, Christmas is a very important time of year and we don’t want to see anyone suffer.”
Radtke says the food bank’s cupboards are filling up but she warns after the holiday is when food is seriously needed.
Applications for the hampers can be filled out at Kate’s Kitchen on Rossland Avenue before Dec. 9.