As the cost of living continues to creep skyward, the Salvation Army is once again kicking off their annual Kettle Campaign to help support those in need within the community and help them to have a happy holiday season.
The campaign was kicked off in Fort Frances on the morning of Tuesday, November 14, 2023, when Salvation Army Fort Frances Auxiliary Captain Arthur Heathcote and mayor Andrew Hallikas put up the first kettle station at Walmart Fort Frances, which quickly saw donations from passing shoppers. Heathcote shared that the campaign will run along a similar timescale to years previous, ensuring as many donations as possible can be collected to help those in need and to support their Christmas Hamper program.
“The Kettle Campaign is going to run this year from November 14, through to December 23,” Heathcote said.
“We’re collecting donations for our Christmas Hamper program and for funds that will sustain us throughout the rest of the year itself. We’ve had a number of new households come alongside us this year, we’re anticipating about 260 hampers to be given out in December this year, so every penny helps and helps to take pressure off of families that would like to provide for their children this year.”
As always, money raised through the local kettle campaign stays in the Rainy River District to help those in need in the area, and Heathcote noted that as costs of living continue to rise, that local support is more necessary than ever.
“So far, to the end of September, we’ve serviced 208 households,” Heathcote said.
“Of those, 60 of them are new families, and 20 of those new families represented seniors. These are people between the ages of 45 and 60 who are working, just trying to make ends meet, and they’re feeling the financial pinch on their dollar and looking to us for some help, for some relief, to get them through.”
According to Heathcote, last year the Salvation Army wound up putting 220 Christmas Hampers together, which means the organization is anticipating 40 new families to ask for help this holiday season. Asked about how the organization keeps up with the seemingly ever-growing demand, Heathcote noted the organization prides itself on budgeting its dollars very well, making sure that donations go where they are meant to. It also helps that all of the donations collected through the kettle campaign go directly into the food bank and its supplies, without losing any donated money to overhead costs like heating or electricity.
As the Kettle Campaign kicks off, Heathcote noted they are once more seeking out volunteers to ring the bells at one of the participating locations this season.
“We’re starting off slow, as we usually do every year,” he said.
“Once people hear that we’re up and running, those who aren’t able to give financially find the time to give. They can volunteer with us by calling the office number at 807-291-0012, or they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a minimum two-hour commitment and we run Monday through Saturday.”
Kettles will be set up at Walmart, Safeway and The Place within Fort Frances this year, offering plenty of opportunity for volunteers to find a time and a place they might be able to help out by ringing the bells.
Hallikas, who made one of the first donations to the Kettle Campaign that morning, echoed Heathcote’s call for support both in donating and volunteering, noting he is proud of the community for being so supportive to financial causes that benefit the community at large.
“I want to acknowledge and commend the Salvation Army for the wonderful and important work that they do in our community, especially for those who are less fortunate” he said.
“I’;m so proud of our community because it’s such a giving, generous community. I look over the years at all the things that our community has dug into their pockets to create, like the community auditorium, the library, equipment for Riverside, a new ice surface. What I’m asking now is to please dig deep and contribute to the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign so that we can ensure that all our residents have a good Christmas. I know there are some people who can’t really afford to give much, but you can donate your time to come down and ring the bells for a while.”
Hallikas also shared that he had been taken on a tour of the Salvation Army’s new Scott Street location, remarking he was impressed with the efficiency of the local branch of the organization ,and struck by just how many people make use of the food bank service there.
“They very graciously took me on a tour of the facility not too long ago, and Arthur showed me the food bank,” Hallikas said.
“He told me that they were feeding almost 1,000 people from all demographics. That just amazed me, when you think that we live in a community of 7,500 people, that’s really significant. The other thing that really stuck out at me was just the sheer volume of the food that’s being distributed. Arthur told me that by the end of the year it was going to be close to 53,000 pounds of food. That’s absolutely amazing. I just thank Arthur and the Salvation Army for helping our community, not just at Christmas, but all year.”