Salvation Army and local families again benefit from annual Walmart fundraiser

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The Salvation Army and Walmart Fort Frances have come together to help ensure families in the area who find themselves in need this fall and winter can get the help they deserve.

As part of Walmart’s “Fight Hunger, Spark Change” campaign, the local store made a donation of $9,679.86 to help support the Salvation Army Fort Frances’ food bank, which will ensure that families who are struggling to put or keep good healthy food on their tables can turn to the charity for assistance.

Salvation Army Fort Frances auxiliary-captain Arthur Heathcote said the long running campaign has been a continued blessing to the Salvation Army and the families they help each year.

“This was the ninth annual Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign that Walmart did in conjunction with food banks Canada,” Heathcote said.

“It’s an annual campaign that helps raise funds for food banks throughout the country in February and March, and the allocations usually come out in the fall. This year, nation-wide, Walmart raised $6.6-million, of which they contributed $820,000. We’re a beneficiary again this year, for which we’re truly thankful.”

The ongoing efforts of local fundraisers to help the Salvation Army continue with their mission, and is of heightened importance as the holiday season gets underway.

“It’s especially helpful this time of year,” Heathcote confirmed.

“This campaign we’ve kind of come to count upon. As weather gets colder, people’s costs start to increase, which can mean paying the bills or putting bills on the table, and Walmart is an excellent bridge to make that happen at this time.”

fifty percent of the donation from Walmart will go towards buying fresh food for the Salvation Army food bank, Heathcote said, with the remainder being used for storage and logistics purposes.

“Things like freezers, moving food, that kind of thing,” Heathcote explained.

“$5,000 worth of fresh food requires a certain amount of storage, so the requirement of the fund is to be able to purchase those kinds of things with part of the money.”

Paolo Santos, store manager of the Fort Frances Walmart, said it’s encouraging to see how the community turns out to support fundraising initiatives that help those in need.

“All funds raised through the campaign stay within the community, so it’s wonderful to see the community helping the community,” Santos said.

“It’s such a great cause for what we’re doing. There are people who won’t give you the full, holistic picture of their livelihood, but those who are able to reach out and who we can help, I’m sure it makes a world of difference.”

The difference the Salvation Army and other such charities make is getting harder and harder to deny, Heathcote noted, particularly as the cost of living continues to rise around much of the country and will likely be felt more and more keely as it continues, especially among those who might already be close to the point of struggling.

“All indicators show that we’re going to see a significant increase [in families accessing the food bank] again this Christmas,” Heathcote said.

“This past year alone, we’ve had 119 new families just trying to make ends meet, and we’re grateful that we’re able to provide for those people when they come looking.”

Outside of the annual fundraisers, Heathcote stressed that the Salvation Army is always willing and able to accept donations at the Scott Street location to keep the charitable spirit of helping others in the community alive throughout the year.