Salvation Army meets holiday season goal

Tyler Clarke
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Hoisted by mother Danee Burnie, Shiylee Chelsey, 3, slides a bill into a Salvation Army kettle at the Gateway Mall on Dec. 4, nudging the organization closer to their final goal. 

The final numbers are in, and Prince Albert’s Salvation Army came out of the holiday season slightly above their fundraising goal of $120,000.


“I think it’s great – it’s wonderful,” Major Glenn Patey said, noting that the organization managed to raise $2,000 more than their goal. “We really appreciated that mark of support from the community.”

Christmas Kettles were topped up with $10,000 more than they’d anticipated, though Patey notes that a radio-a-thon fundraiser evened things out by raising fewer dollars than usual.

This year’s Christmas hamper saw a significant change, with Walmart gift cards given away instead of hampers of food -- a move that proved popular.

“The hampers were up by 50 applicants over last year, which was surprising,” Patey said, noting that 475 gift cards were handed out.

Although recipients could very well sell gift cards, Patey notes, that “They could just as easily sell a turkey.”

It’s all about trust and instilling a sense of dignity, Patey said, noting that many Salvation Armies across the nation have adopted gift cards instead of physical hampers.

“Salvation Army has been looking at ways for people to recover their dignity, and rather than give them what we think is good for them, we ask them what they consider would be best for them going forward,” he explained.

This might explain lower than usual numbers at the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas dinner, Patey said, noting that recipients were able to use their gift cards to compile the dinner of their choosing, at home.

Only between 200 and 250 showed up for the Christmas dinner -- a drop of about 100 compared with last year.

The gift card system also spared volunteers the arduous task of purchasing, storing and sorting thousands of pounds of food, Patey said.

It also proved a learning experience, he said, noting that volunteers typically stock each food hamper with a turkey -- a purchase quite a few gift card recipients did not choose to make.

“A lot of them would rather fry up a pork chop than cook a turkey,” Patey relayed.

Although the Salvation Army dispensed Walmart gift cards this year, Patey said that they’re open to trying other grocery stores in the future, since various businesses assist the organization year-round.

In addition to funding Christmas season initiatives, the money the Salvation Army raised last month will also fund initiatives year-round, Patey said, singling out meal and seniors programming as priorities, in addition to general requests for assistance.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about, and hasn’t gone from the backburner to the front burner but somewhere in between there, is a Sunday downtown meal,” Patey said.

“We’re still looking at that and how that can be managed and operated … because there’s a meal downtown every day of the week except for Sunday.”

Seniors programming takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, consisting of social get-togethers at the Salvation Army where seniors can talk and enjoy light snacks.

With countless organizations and individuals to thank for this year’s successful effort, Patey summarized that the community came together, as always.

“A big thank you to the community in general.” 

Organizations: Salvation Army, Walmart

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