The Thompson Salvation Army were surprised they were able to raise $50,933 in December despite only putting out a few Christmas kettles due to COVID-19.
Normally, many kettles would be set up in the malls and businesses around Thompson. This year, the kettles were not manned because of the pandemic and therefore, the Salvation Army did not expect to meet their usual target much less to surpass it.
In 2019, they managed to raise $48,000. In 2020, they exceeded their previous donations by approximately $3,000.
“When you have a kettle without anybody standing next to it, it tends to be very unsuccessful. We were quite concerned because we thought that our Christmas kettles would not be effective this year,” said Thompson Salvation Army managing director Roy Bladen on Tuesday.
“However, when we marched on into Christmas, the monetary donations that were sent through mail increased significantly. We managed to raise $30,000 through mail. It is unbelievable the way people came through even during this difficult time.”
They managed to top their goal due to contributions from many individuals as well as due to a $20,000 donation from Vale.
Five thousand dollars from the Vale donation were designated for toys for the holiday season. Since the Salvation Army was not able to purchase non-essential items due to restrictions, the money will be used to buy toys for this year’s Christmas.
The remainder of the money will go towards the church’s food bank, serving approximately 600 people, including children.
“We recognize that COVID-19 has had significant impacts on the community and Vale has tried to identify opportunities where we can provide support,” said a Vale Manitoba Operations spokesperson.
“This included donating to the Salvation Army’s Food Bank in support of the Annual Christmas Kettle Campaign, providing holiday meals to vulnerable community members through Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. and holding an internal Toy Drive to support local Christmas hampers. Vale is a committed member of the Thompson community and will continue to work with our partners in 2021.”
With the donations, Bladen expects that the food bank should be able to function until Thanksgiving.
“It is amazing to be able to have funding to operate throughout 2021. The food bank has seen quite a demand on its services. Since September, we saw a 20 per cent increase in our clientele,” he said.
“We have confidence that we have enough funding to maintain our operation and keep people fed throughout this year,” he added.
— Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun