Volunteer Suzanne Anderson rings her bell at the Christmas kettle at Thrifty Foods on Nov. 20. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Volunteer Suzanne Anderson rings her bell at the Christmas kettle at Thrifty Foods on Nov. 20. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Volunteers needed for annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in Cowichan

Money used for Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program

Suzanne Anderson was delighted to don her Santa hat, grab a bell and attract attention to the Christmas kettle at Thrifty Foods on Nov. 20.

This is Anderson’s fourth year as a volunteer for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign in the Cowichan Valley, which kicked off on Nov. 20, and she typically works a couple of two-hour shifts each week until the campaign ends on Christmas Eve.

She said she appreciates the fact that all the money made from the campaign, which is approximately $100,000 per year, stays in the Cowichan Valley to help those who need it at Christmas time.

“The people the Salvation Army supports with the kettle campaign need this, and the Salvation Army needs people to volunteer to do it,” she told me.

“It’s also a great opportunity to meet and talk to people and get into the Christmas spirit. I just love it.”

Anderson was taking over the shift at the kettle from me. I was honoured to work the first shift of the campaign, from 10 a.m. to noon on kick-off day.

Wearing a Santa hat, ringing a bell and (of course) wearing a mask, I was certainly noticed by shoppers at Thrifty Foods as I circled the kettle wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

I was pleasantly surprised by the generosity the people of the Valley exhibited as they slipped bills and coins into the kettle, thanked me for helping out with the campaign and wished me the best during the festive season.

One lady told me that she desperately needed a hand up during a more unsettled point in her life, and now that she was more secure, she was delighted to give back as she stuffed a large contribution into the kettle.

One little girl who was hiding behind her mother’s legs as they passed the kettle shyly asked if I was Santa Claus.

I told her I was one of Santa’s legions of helpers who step in to the assist the jolly old elf with his many duties and responsibilities at this time of year.

The mother seemed to find my answer so amusing, she laughed and cleaned her purse out of change for her daughter to place in the kettle.

All in all, it was a fun two-hour shift and I’d encourage anyone who has a few hours to spare to sign up for a shift or two this Christmas season.

Kettle coordinator Bill Zylstra said more volunteers are needed.

He said there are close to 700 shifts that run between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at seven kettles in the Valley to cover during the campaign, and that about half had been filled by kick-off day.

Zylstra acknowledged that all the money raised is spent in the Valley, and is used to cover the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Hamper program, presents for the children of needy families in the region, and other local programs.

“We really appreciate the generosity of the people of the Valley in giving money to the kettles, and time to work the shifts at each kettle station,” he said.

For more information, or to sign up to volunteer at a kettle, call 250-732-8988 or email SArmyKettles@shaw.ca.


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