A Salvation Army volunteer smiles as a young girl donates money to last year’s campaign. File photo

A Salvation Army volunteer smiles as a young girl donates money to last year’s campaign. File photo

Salvation Army hopes for last-minute donations for kettle campaign

Campaign will end Dec. 24, and donations are down on last year

With just a few more days left for the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign, the organization is hoping for some big donations to match or exceed last year’s total.

Debbie and Randy Gatza, the local corps officers for the Salvation Army, say the total raised with the kettle campaign is so far down on the 2017 campaign. Christmas time is the charity’s primary fundraising period.

“We put the kettles out the last week of November and the first three weeks of December,” says Debbie, adding that they’ll be out Dec. 21 and 22, and for the last time on Dec. 24, when they’ll finish the campaign at 2 p.m.

The donations go towards the Salvation Army’s operating costs, and funds the soup kitchen and family services, as well as supplementing the food bank if supplies run low.

“When we run out of food [at the food bank] we go and buy the main staples … and there are times when people need help with getting their medication, or different things like that,” explains Debbie, saying they often begin to run out of food in the bank between summer and early fall.

The soup kitchen is open Tuesday to Friday for lunch, and the funds supply the fresh vegetables and meat needed to make the homemade fare. The kitchen feeds between 85 and 120 people a day. Tuesday’s Christmas lunch saw 200 people come through the door.

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Additionally, if the Salvation Army has an overabundance of fresh food, they’ll often donate it to other organizations around town, including the Amata Transition House Society and Seasons House.

In order to meet their budgetary needs, the Salvation Army needs to bring in at least $50,000 a year, but Randy says locally, that is generally not feasible. Instead, they are aiming to bring in the same or more than last year, when they raised $36,000.

“We are not making enough to satisfy the budget so we depend on the head office sometimes to come through and give us money. … Sometimes they are able to come through for us if we are running short to make the operational demands,” says Randy.

He says they often run into a deficit in the summer months, and donations overall have been dropping by about $2,000 a year. He hopes that won’t be the case this year.

“Hopefully we can at least get $36,000 or higher. The last few days are unpredictable.”

Despite the donation drive being down, the food bank drive has been going very well.

“We’ve been blessed that way. People are very giving. We are over the top for the food bank,” says Debbie, who also says they’ve had great support from volunteers stepping up to man the kettles at Quesnel’s five locations: Save-On Foods, Safeway, the B.C. Liquor Store on Reid Street, Extra Foods and Walmart.

“This community is very generous. People really support the soup kitchen and the food bank,” says Debbie.

With just a few days left to fill the kettles, perhaps some locals with deep pockets will be inspired to give a little extra this year and help the charity exceed its goal.

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