Kettle coordinator knelt by the The Salvation Army logo on the floor inside the Gateway of Hope. The kettle campaign, which raises funds for Salvation Army programs in the community, is underway and runs until Dec. 23. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Wanted: Bell ringers to man Salvation Army Christmas kettles in Langley

Campaign runs until Dec. 23

It’s still early in the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign, but volunteer bell ringers have been in short supply across the Langleys.

“We need lots of volunteers,” said Salvation Army Gateway of Hope volunteer co-ordinator Twyla Vokins, who noted that 3,008 shifts need to be filled for the seasonal fundraising campaign that started Nov. 20 and runs until Dec. 23.

There are lots of options to choose from for two-hour volunteer shifts, running from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

Less than a week into the campaign, the local Salvation Army had only a third of the volunteers it requires to make things run smoothly.

“People start thinking about the campaign in December but we need volunteers now,” Vokins said.

“Typically in December numbers start to pick up in terms of volunteers, but it’s important to get the word out.”

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year for Gateway of Hope,” added Krista Hannan, from The Salvation Army Gateway of Hope, noting all money donated in Langley stays in Langley.

“This goes towards the next year in terms of determining how many programs we can keep afloat. We fundraise throughout the year but we have 20-plus programs that we fund.”

Gateway of Hope provides many vital services in Langley, designed to complement those provided by other community organizations. Christmas food hampers, for example, focus on singles, seniors and couples without children.

With a $150,000 local goal this year, the more than month-long campaign includes 100 volunteer shifts each day.

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Kettles are hosted at more than 20 locations and volunteer shifts begin at just two hours, making it easy for locals to spread holiday cheer. Hannan said some people will do one shift for the season but many will take on multiple shifts.

“We’d love to have volunteers for multiple shifts, but if two hours is all you can do, that’s wonderful,” Hannan says.

Hannan said if volunteers weren’t manning kettles, it would be impossible for the campaign to operate.

“It’s huge for us. This whole campaign, world-wide, is based on volunteer help.”

The good news is, there have been a lot of helpers returning from last year.

She added that a lot of people start stepping forward in December, when the giving season is in full swing.

“That’s what happened last year,” she said. “We were panicking, but in December a flood of volunteer applications came in.”

The more volunteers the better, Hannan said, “because we have a lot of empty shifts and it’s ideal to fill them all.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as a bell ringer with the kettle campaign in Langley can call the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope at 604-514-7375, email kettles@gatewayofhope.ca, or visit www.gatewayofhope.com and find ‘volunteer opportunities’ via the ‘Help Us’ tab.

“And if people can’t volunteer, if they can even spread the word of the need for volunteers,” Hannan said. “That is still helpful. Sharing it with their friends, family and co-workers.”

All the cash and coins dropped into local kettle boxes during the campaign stays never leaves the community, going towards programs in Langley and Aldergrove, Hannan said.

For those who want to help people who are homeless or struggling financially, “this is great way to do it. If you’re passing by, throw some change into it,” she said.

“It’s not just our homeless community. These (Salvation Army) programs also support low-income, vulnerable people in our community, as well, for things like our community meals, our Christmas hampers, the kids’ backpack school program … if you want to help the vulnerable in Langley and Aldergrove, that’s what we do.”

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