The shiny greens and bright reds of Christmas will soon be adorning businesses and homes in Pictou County in celebration of the Christmas season.
There is one distinct red that, year after year, continues to resemble a sign of hope and compassion for some in the county.
That red is the one on the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles.
The Red Kettle Campaign is gearing up with a kick-off on November 18 at the Highland Square Mall in New Glasgow.
“The kick off begins at 6:30 p.m. with the brass band and we will have the kettle there from 6 to 8 p.m.,” explains Dion Durdle, community ministries co-ordinator.
The kettles will be out in all locations, 12 in Pictou County, from November 21 through December 24.
The kettles are manned by volunteers from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, granted there are enough volunteers to fill the more than 1,000 two-to three-hour shifts that take place throughout the month.
Durdle notes, “It’s always a challenge from year to year to get enough volunteers.”
Lt. Shawna Goulding, corps officer and pastor for the Salvation Army Church in Westville adds, “It’s generally a challenge, especially at the start (of the campaign). People aren’t really in the mode of thinking about Christmas so it’s more difficult early on to get the volunteers. The need for us for Christmas doesn’t happen on December 24, there is a lot of prep work involved.”
Durdle says the volunteers are crucial, because any time there is no one manning a kettle, it means there are no donations.
The Red Kettle Campaign is the largest fundraiser for the local Salvation Army.
“Last year we raised around $100,000 which was up from the previous years,” says Durdle who notes the goal this year will also be $100,000.
All of the funds raised locally from the Red Kettle Campaign stay local and provide families in need with toys for Christmas.
“The Red Kettle Campaign supports us (The Salvation Army) with our Christmas efforts. We have our annual toy drive (at the Highland Square Mall) but if there are not enough toys for all of the children, funds from the kettle will help us purchase more toys,” notes Goulding.
“Last year we were able to provide 215 families and more than 400 children with toy hampers.”
Outside of Christmas, the kettle funds go toward every day operations including the 24-hour emergency food service and providing household items and bedding for those in need throughout the year.
“We typically help 500 people throughout the year and send 20 children to camp each summer,” says Goulding.
Registration for The Salvation Army toy drive is November 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Salvation Army Church in Westville and November 17 at the Highland Square Mall across from Bell Aliant from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Registration requires a health card for each family member and the toy drive is for children 14 years of age or younger.
The toy drive will begin at the Highland Square Mall the week of November 21 where tags will be placed on trees in front of Tim Hortons with a child’s age, gender and preferred toy.
“We ask people to take a tag and bring the unwrapped toy back,” explains Goudling.
The tags will be available until December 14.
“We have seen an increase in the number of families that come to us for help with toys each year,” says Goulding.
The kettle campaign has been taking place in Canada since 1906, helping families in need.
“We just want to thank the people of Pictou County for their financial support in giving every year,” says Durdle.
Goulding adds, “We want to thank the community for helping the community.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer for the Red Kettle Campaign can phone 902-396-5555.