A last-minute push and a flurry of donations almost brought the Trail Salvation Army’s annual kettle campaign to its 2012 goal.
But not quite.
The branch reported that it managed to raise $28,800, just short of its $30,000 target.
And the story was unique to the Greater Trail region. Across Canada this season, the familiar tinkling of bells did not garner the attention or donations that the annual campaign hopes for, with numerous branches reporting short falls in fundraising goals.
“I really don’t know why donations are down,” said Major Wilf Harbin, of the Trail Salvation Army Branch.
“But in our community of 8,000 people, $28,800 is a tremendous amount of money.”
This year, the branch had 93 volunteers ringing bells in four locations.
“We are already ahead because our kettles are manned only by volunteers,” said Harbin.
“In larger cities, people are paid to man the kettle,” he explained.
All money raised from the kettles, stays in the community to help local families in need. The funds are allocated to the Salvation Army Family Services program, located at the food bank and Kate’s Kitchen on Rossland Avenue.
In December, the program recorded that 380 families received regular food hampers, with an additional 310 hampers gifted for Christmas.
“We had so many families coming in each day in December, we lost count,” said Linda Radtke, manager of the family services program.
“Each day we had 14 or 15 people coming in to receive a hamper, it was hard to keep up,” said Radtke.
“And that number doesn’t include the 34 families that were sponsored with hampers by members of our community,” she added.
The money from the kettle campaign covers the costs of the gift of the Christmas hampers, and remaining funds help to cover costs at the food bank and Kate’s Kitchen.
“We serve at least 150 meals a week through Kate’s Kitchen,” said Radtke.
“Funds from the kettle campaign keep us up and running.”
On Dec. 20, two volunteers from the Salvation Army thrift shop dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus and manned the kettle outside of Walmart.
On that day, Walmart Canada, through its “fill up the kettle” agenda, matched all funds that were raised outside its stores on that date.
“We did receive matched funds on that date, which really helped,” said Harbin.
In 2010, the Trail branch raised $28,200 and in 2011, a record amount of $31,000 was deposited into its kettles.
The campaign began on Nov. 22 and ended on Dec.24.
Donations to the Salvation Army can be made at the church’s location on Second Avenue in East Trail, or by calling 368-3515.