STELLARTON — The days before Christmas are crucial ones for the local Salvation Army, Major Dion Durdle says.
“The number of clients coming for assistance triples this time of year,” said Durdle, who is the community ministries co-ordinator for the area.
Durdle was addressing the Pictou County council of Churches at its quarterly meeting on December 4 in the Sister Catherine Steele Centre at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
He said the partnerships formed among churches, individuals and community groups who volunteer to stands beside kettles during the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas campaign is gratifying.
“It’s not just the Salvation Army,” he said. “When you see so many churches represented at the kettles, there is so much connection. It’s a great opportunity to come together.”
Durdle described the services the local Salvation Army offers through community family services in New Glasgow and its thrift stores in New Glasgow and Westville. He also noted the investments that have been made to maintain and operate Scotia Glen Camp.
“It’s a very busy place over the year,” he said. “It presents a huge opportunity for us to sense and meet the needs of people. There is a tremendous sense of community in Pictou County between the churches working like this.”
He noted that between 75 and 80 per cent of the work done through the thrift stores and the Christmas campaigns is volunteer-run.
Change is coming with regard to Salvation Army staff, Durdle said. He and his wife have entered into officer training and could be leaving the area next year.
Current officers Wayne and Betty Anne Pike are retiring in 2019.
Meanwhile, Durdle saluted the arrival of Wendy Ward as a part-time family service worker.
“That has been so important to have,” he said. “That will help us expand our reach. Expanding our reach is important to us. Making more contact with people in the area is a key goal for the future.”
Durdle used the example of how donated furniture helps the Salvation Army meet people’s and failies’ needs.
The $100 received for a couch allows the Salvation Army distribute the proceeds to pay for clothing or home heating, he said.
“Every dollar helps 15 different families with 15 different needs,” he said.
He shared a story of how a resident from outside Pictou County ended up here homeless. But the Salvation Army helped to secure living quarters and got local agencies to help the person find work.
Spiritual care is a focus for the Salvation Army despite people’s needs for food, shelter and clotching and other basics, Durdle said.
“Spiritual need is always at the forefront for us,” he said. “As churches come together, it’s important we do that.”
Dion Durdle from the Salvation Army is joined by Pictou County Council of Churches president Bob Rogers, left, and Rev. Barrett Johnson from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish after Durdle’s address to council. (Goodwin photo)