By Breanna Himmelright
This holiday season will see a familiar set of red buckets and red-coated volunteers returning to communities throughout B.C.
The Salvation Army’s B.C. Division kicked off its annual Red Kettle fundraiser Nov. 19 at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The organization’s brass band played a selection of traditional Christmas music for onlookers, while volunteers were on site giving out free hot chocolate and helping raise funds for those in need.
Mike Leland, the divisional secretary of public relations, said that the goal for this year’s fundraiser is $5 million, as well as $1 million for the victims of the recent floods in Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
“Our role when it comes to emergency services is we feed first responders and evacuees, provide them hydration, mental health and spiritual care. We provide jackets, blankets and in some cases we provide shelter,” Leland said.
“We’ll be here on the ground until this thing’s over, and for months after that.”
The demand for services this year has increased up to 200 per cent in some communities. That increase in demand makes the red kettles critical to the Salvation Army’s work, as Leland says “about 70 per cent” of the money donated to the organization is raised during the holidays.
“That money has to last 365 days a year, because that’s how many days we’re on the street helping vulnerable individuals,” Leland said.
“I don’t think we’re at the end of the COVID tunnel yet. So we’re gonna need British Columbians’ support to help everybody get through this.”