The Salvation Army is looking for people to fill hundreds of volunteer shifts, so it can reach its donation goal in this year's kettle campaign.
The charity is aiming to collect $600,000 by Christmas Eve through its annual Christmas kettle campaign. But it needs volunteers to fill 1,500 shifts to ring bells and attend to a kettle, otherwise some can't be sent out to collect donations, according to a news release issued Friday.
The campaign is a major fundraiser for the Salvation Army in Alberta, division spokesperson Jamie Locke told CBC News. Without it, the various ministry units — as the Salvation Army calls them — throughout the province would struggle to help the amount of people coming to them.
"This has been a challenging year," Locke said. "This pandemic has hit families, it's hit individuals, who are struggling in a way that we haven't experienced before.
"We need volunteers this year more than ever on our kettle campaign."
The shift would be two or three hours, depending on the community, he said. In Edmonton, a shift is three hours.
The money raised stays in the province, and may go toward sending a child to camp, serving hot meals to people, and counselling, among many other initiatives, the agency said in a news release.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up online or call 780-424-9222 ext. 800.
A need for toys
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is wrapping up its Fill the Truck toy drive Sunday.
Members of the charity and volunteers spent the weekend posted outside the Kingsway Mall collecting new, unwrapped toys as part of its annual Christmas assistance program.
Toy donations have taken a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the amount of donations are off to a slow start this season, the charity said a news release earlier this week.
"In Edmonton alone, we've seen numbers that that haven't come to the Salvation Army before," Locke told CBC News, adding that 2,000 children have already been registered to receive help this holiday season.
"That's a story that's played out in every community, all throughout the province. The Salvation Army is working with other service providers to make sure that no child goes without a gift this Christmas morning."
The Salvation Army will still be outside Entrance 8 at the Kingsway Mall until 5 p.m. Sunday.
It's looking for new, unwrapped toys for children aged zero to 12. There are particularly high needs for infants and toddlers (aged zero to two years old) and nine- to 12-year-olds, the news release said.
People who could not make it to the toy drive can help by making a monetary donation online.