The Salvation Army in Prince Albert kicked off its annual Christmas Cheer Fund on Thursday, capping 120 years of helping the city’s less fortunate.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Coun. Martin Ring (right) officially kicks off the Salvation Army’s Christmas Cheer Fund at City Hall on Thursday by making a donation while local Salvation Army representative Maj. Glenn Patey looks on.
Although the branch receives a small grant from the Salvation Army’s national headquarters, approximately 90 per cent of operating fees come from the local community through the Christmas Cheer fund.
“Every year the Salvation Army has its normal campaign for fundraising for our Christmas effort, and that Christmas effort also extends throughout the whole year,” P.A. Salvation Army representative Maj. Glenn Patey said.
“So our goal is $120,000 and our budget is $120,000 to bring us up to next year, the end of 2013, and that would cover our Christmas expenses for 2012 plus going into the new year with regard to food and clothing and so on.”
The local Salvation Army branch provides a variety of items and services to the community, ranging from emergency food and clothing to social counselling. It also partnered with the Church of the Nazarene to offer soup on Saturdays.
Traditionally, the Salvation Army has received a strong response to its Christmas fund from Prince Albert residents. Individuals, families, churches, clubs, schools and other organizations have all done their part to support the organization’s fundraising efforts.
“We want to thank the citizens of Prince Albert for their great support over the last 120 years,” Patey said. “They’re the reason why we’ve been able to stay here and sustain our ministry throughout those years … We marvel at the generosity of the people in the city for sure.”
Patey officially rang in the 2012 Christmas Cheer Fund with a brief presentation in the lobby of City Hall, where the audience joined him in signing the hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful.
Also present was Coun. Martin Ring, who read out a proclamation from the city acknowledging the work of the Salvation Army over the years and the role of the fund in providing food, toys and other items to the disadvantaged during the holiday season.
We marvel at the generosity of the people in the city. Maj. Glenn Patey
“I think at times, a lot of us just take for granted what we have,” Ring said. “It is a time of the year when we can start thinking of those a little bit less fortunate, and hopefully our community once again will be opening up for the Salvation Army.”
The historical generosity of Prince Albert residents is certainly a positive sign. Every year, about 75 per cent of money raised for the Christmas Cheer Fund comes through the ubiquitous red kettle campaign, which Patey described as the Salvation Army’s “bread and butter.”
Throughout the holiday season, shoppers can make donations at the red Christmas kettles staffed by volunteers in shopping malls, liquor stores and retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Superstore, the Prince Albert Co-op and Safeway.
“All in all, with our volunteers every Christmas, we have anywhere I would say from about 75 to 100 volunteers that get involved in our Christmas effort,” Patey said.
“They’re a broad spectrum,” he added. “Some are from other churches, some of the schools get involved, service organizations get involved, you name it.”
When it comes to volunteer work, the Salvation Army has a “more the merrier” philosophy. Still, where the most popular duties are concerned, it’s the early bird who gets the worm.
“We can always use more volunteers,” Patey said, before warning: “If you want to volunteer for Christmas Day at dinner, you better get your name in on the bottom level right now, because a lot of people want to do that and we actually have to turn people away on Christmas Day, we have so many volunteers.
“But if you want to help with other areas, just call our office during normal office hours and we’d be glad to assign some tasks to you.”