Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But “he” wasn’t simply the traditional jolly man in a red suit handing out gifts in Greater Trail this Christmas.
This past Christmas, old St. Nick was a fusion of the community’s goodwill with helping hands from police, regional firefighters, Trail royalty, the Smoke Eaters, and other big hearted volunteers, including three young unknowns.
With only days left in its 2016 Christmas Kettle Campaign, the Trail Salvation Army put out a mid-month call for help. The annual December fundraising campaign had few bell ringers and was falling very short of its $30,000 kettle target.
The community stepped up in a big way, said Major Ginny Kristensen.
“Right at the very end these young guys, who wouldn’t give us their names, had gotten together with some of their friends and they had collected $4,000 to buy toys with,” the Major shared with the Trail Times.
“And they collected another $1,000 to buy food with. They were just three young guys doing it, who said they’d gotten together with some of their friends – they wouldn’t tell us their names – but that was the sort of donations we were getting this year – it was just wonderful.”
By the time the lid closed on the kettles Christmas Eve, the campaign exceeded its goal by bringing in almost $36,000 for the church’s family services to use in community food and outreach programs.
“That push was awesome,” said Kristensen. “Not only did we get a ton of volunteers, we got additional donations because of it,” she added.
“I’d really like to put a thank you in to the community and to all of the volunteers. The Smoke Eaters did a lot of shifts, the fire department, the RCMP, the Trail Ambassadors and all the individuals from the community who stepped up and helped us,” she said.
“So even though the mail campaign came in low, we will probably still be fine this year because of the number of donations we’ve gotten at the kettles and are continuing to get.”
The Salvation Army’s mail campaign had a $100,000 target, but came in at $79,200.
Stuff the Bus
Both campaigns brought in a combined $115,000, which the church uses primarily for monthly hampers, a children’s lunch program and free meals at Kate’s Kitchen on Rossland Avenue.
“We provide food hampers through the month for hundreds of families,” says Linda Radtke from family services. “We also provide about 1,100 meals at Kate’s Kitchen each month and we also provide school lunches for 64 children.”
So what would happen if the community didn’t pitch in so generously for the Christmas campaigns?
“If we didn’t have the community stepping up and helping during Christmas we’d be in sorry shape,” Radtke added. “We’d probably have to close our doors.”