Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With just two days to go before Christmas, the Salvation Army's annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in the Maritimes is down more than $250,000 in donations.
"Our annual kettle campaign has faced many challenges this year. With less kettles in stores and tighter restrictions in many cities, we simply are not raising the funds we need," Major Jamie Locke, divisional secretary for public relations and development, said in a news release issued December 23.
The Maritime regional fundraising goal this year is $1.8 million.
In a telephone interview with LighthouseNOW, Locke later reported that giving in the Liverpool area is down $21,000 compared to last year, while in Bridgewater it's down about $6,000. Last year, the Salvation Army in Liverpool brought in $24,685 in kettle donations and the one in Bridgewater $61,730.
"I can't call it a surprise. I'm quite encouraged by the giving that we have seen. The number we are presenting just represents the challenges associated with fundraising in the midst of a pandemic," said Locke.
He said traditional fundraising methods, whereby volunteers stood next to the kettles, has been restricted in numerous areas this year.
"That would be the main reason (for the fundraising being down), but we are grateful for the strong showing of generosity that we are experiencing on the part of Maritimers," said Locke. "We just want to get the word out that we are falling a bit short, so if (there's) something that people can do to help us reach that goal, we would be quite pleased."
All money raised goes to the Salvation Army to help families and individuals in need. Last year, the organization helped more than 56,000 people in the Maritimes by providing food, shelter, practical support programs and assistance over the Christmas season.
"People are turning to us that have never had to ask for help before. They need us now, and we need the support of Maritimers who can donate," said Locke. "We know times are different, so we have introduced new ways to give. You can donate online or at the kettle via credit card, debit card, and even a contactless tap method."
The kettles will be gone for the season Christmas Eve, but the Salvation Army will accept donations all year long. Those who wish to donate online can go to Salvation Army.ca. They can also call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, give at one of the many kettles available, or stop at a Salvation Army church. Contributions to the Salvation Army will remain in the community that they were collected in.