A holiday season staple has returned to Salmon Arm: the iconic red Salvation Army donation kettles.
Alongside the red buckets, you probably imagine a smiling face ringing a cheerful bell and asking for donations to help the less fortunate. The Salvation Army began collecting donations on Thursday, Nov. 24 this year and will continue to do so until Christmas Eve, but they need to recruit more volunteers to accompany the kettles.
Volunteers are hard to come by this year, due to pandemic concerns. A lot of Salvation Army volunteers are seniors, and many have been sick or seriously impacted by cold and flu season so that they don’t want to be out in public.
Maryann Brock, who is coordinating the kettle volunteers again this year after working the position years ago, says a man who is 91 years old, who has volunteered for at least 15 years that she knows of, is taking a step back this year. He is unwell but feels obligated to continue volunteering.
“There comes a time when it’s not your turn anymore though,” said Brock, adding that she hopes the community will step up and replace the old guard.
Brock, who has always been involved in community initiatives, currently helps with the local Girl Guides organization and plans parades in Salmon Arm. She came back to the Salvation Army this year when there was an opening for a coordinator, a role the volunteer operation relies on heavily.
The Salvation Army kettle campaign has a lot of moving parts. There are seven locations in Salmon Arm: Askew’s Uptown, Canadian Tire, Walmart, Save On Foods, Downtown Liquor Store, inside Piccadilly Mall, and the newly-opened Peavey Mart. At each of these locations, volunteers are asked to work a minimum two-hour shift to reduce turnover, although Brock will never turn down a volunteer no matter what amount of time they can commit. The coordinator has to facilitate which locations will have volunteers at what time of day. For example, the liquor store location is more heavily staffed in the evenings and grocery stores may be busier on weekend mornings, needing volunteers for that time.
The coordinator plans this schedule and also has to pick up the kettles and donations to be stored safely any time a volunteer finishes a shift without an immediate replacement.
On Nov. 25, the Salvation Army launched a virtual calendar where interested volunteers can check if their preferred kettle donation location is available for them to work a shift at. Brock says this has helped and that the organization is trying everything to recruit people, but it’s brand-new and she still has to coordinate the volunteers once they express interest in a shift.
Brock said that the kettle campaign is a great place for social people to volunteer.
“We ask that you show up on time, smile, and enjoy chatting with people,” Brock said.
Dress for the weather if you’re going to volunteer, as some locations are outdoors but will be moved inside in extreme conditions.
The Salvation Army kettle donations now accept tap on payment cards, so donors are able to choose from $5, $10 or $20 increments (with the option of adding more). All funds collected here stay within Shuswap communities, whether it’s a cash or card donation.
If you are interested in volunteering, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-803-8768.