The red kettles and bell ringers will be out in front of stores around Langley again this year – but as with all things in 2020, the annual Salvation Army campaign will be a little different.
The campaign will run through to Christmas, and aims to raise $180,000 this year for the Gateway of Hope’s many programs, said Dan Donkers, the local fundraising coordinator.
This year, a number of steps will be taken to ensure the protection of kettle volunteers, Donkers said.
“You’ll see most of our kettles outside this year,” he said.
That’s in addition to masks, gloves, and physical distancing rules.
As for attracting volunteers to crew the kettles and jingle the bells, “so far, so good,” said Donkers.
He guesses there may be something of a decrease this year, however.
“It’s a little too early to tell,” he said.
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However, the Salvation Army won’t be relying solely on the physical kettles.
As with so many other aspects of business and communication in this COVID-19 year, the Salvation Army is emphasizing an online effort.
The fillthekettle.com site allows for local donations, which means money given there can stay in Langley and go towards local programs.
People can also start their own personal campaigns through the website and direct the proceeds towards the Gateway of Hope.
The programs at the Gateway of Hope include support for the shelter itself, which provides a warm place to sleep for many homeless people in Langley, including extra beds during extreme weather events in the winter months, when snow, freezing temperatures, or cold rain make staying outside a dangerous prospect.
But the biggest single program run out of the Gateway of Hope is the meals program, which serves both the homeless and those facing hunger due to lack of resources. The meal program has been running on a take out basis since the start of the pandemic.
The Gateway also provides school supplies to kids in low-income families and free tax clinics. Donkers said staff are even hoping that by next summer, they’ll be able to fund another project to send kids to summer camp. Summer camps didn’t take place this year.