With the annual Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign launching Friday at Ferraro Foods in downtown Trail, the Trail Times took this opportunity to talk with the Trail church’s new spiritual leaders, Andrew and Olivia Sweet.
The married ordained officers arrived in town this summer, finding out firsthand just how much the pandemic has impacted all aspects of life in the city. The Times asked about their experience thus far in this region, and what they are expecting on the road ahead in terms of need and demand during such an anomalous time.
Trail Times (TT): Has the Salvation Army noted an increase of demand during COVID-19?
Andrew and Olivia Sweet (AOS): We have seen an increase in demand since the pandemic started. On average each day we are seeing an increase of 20 per cent of those served through Kate’s Kitchen. As you can imagine, with businesses shutting down or being forced to lay-off staff due to restrictions, individuals and families that were living paycheck to paycheck are struggling more and more and are requiring some extra help.
Currently,on average, we are serving 60-70 lunches per day and giving out 20-30 food hampers. We are also providing practical needs like toilet paper and other hygiene products to those in need. With the help of great volunteers, we deliver 400 dinners a month for those in need of food through our “Meals on Wheels program”. We also have just received a Crisis Response Truck to help serve the community of Trail. Our hope is to be able to use this food serving truck to bring more hot meals to those in need throughout the winter months.
TT: How has the Christmas Kettle Campaign had to modify fundraising this year? Do you need more volunteers?
AOS: While the newest protocols put into place by the health authorities in B.C. do not explicitly stop us from running our kettle campaign, a number of their protocols have impacted our regular operations.
In trying to discern how to keep our community and volunteers safe, we have decided to postpone the start of bell-ringers standing on our kettles. Through our efforts we hope to limit public contact in our community until Dec. 7 and then have volunteers assist in our kettle campaign.
While we have already seen an almost 50 per cent decrease in volunteers, the need for assistance is increasing and we must try our best to meet our fundraising goals so that we can continue to serve our community diligently. Due to this decrease we are shifting the amount and duration of kettles in our community, seeking to staff three kettles full-time for 2.5 weeks.
Two new ways to donate this year are through Tip Tap Machines. These machines will be at two TBA (to be announced) locations in Trail and will allow individuals to tap their debit or credit cards to make donations. All of our kettles are out and will have QR codes on them. Individuals can scan the QR codes with their phones and donate directly. They can also donate online by visiting: salvationarmy.ca. (Click on the donation button and choose the Trail location). We welcome volunteers and ask anyone who is interested to please contact Lt. Andrew by calling the church at 250.368.3515.
TT: What is the fundraising goal for the kettle campaign and the mail-in campaign?
AOS: In total our goal this Christmas season is to raise $130,000 to help fund our services in the Greater Trail area. Recognizing that this year our kettle campaign is going to look different, we are encouraging those who normally donate to the kettle campaign to please consider donating to our mail-in campaign. Every dollar goes a long way! The Christmas fundraising is a large portion of the funds that require to maintain our services throughout the year.
For the kettle campaign our goal is $40,000 which leaves the remaining $90,000 to be raised through our mail-in campaign.
TT: What have you noticed is unique about the Trail area?
AOS: The people here are so kind and generous. We have never seen people so willing to give, whether it be their time, their affirming words or through their gifts. Having spent so much time in big cities we didn’t know what to expect but Trail has already left a mark on our hearts. We have loved learning more about Trail and meeting community members who not only love where they live but want to see it thrive.
TT: What are your insights in terms of need for the Trail area?
AOS: We have come to learn that there is a lot of hidden need in Trail. It can be hard to ask for help and so we have learned that sometimes we must offer assistance before individuals ask for it. Our dream for The Salvation Army Trail Community Ministries is that we would cultivate a space of dignity and respect where the entire community can come together, regardless of their circumstances. Through fostering programs and services in holistic manners we hope that The Salvation Army in Trail will be a transforming influence, meeting physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
These hopes ignite our plans of a big building project that will combine the Thrift Store and Kate’s Kitchen into one location. This is on the horizon – but we can talk more about that soon.