The bells will be ringing again around the Comox Valley this holiday season for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign, however, the way in which people can donate may look a little bit different.
Brent Hobden, community ministries director for the Salvation Army Comox Valley Ministries said due to COIVD-19, bell ringers and kettles will be set up around the area with a new electronic option to donate.
“By the end of November, we will have wireless debit machines -tiptap – where a donor can just tap the machine with their debit or credit card with a preloaded amount.”
The tiptaps used by the Salvation Army will be set at $5 denominations, and a donor can tap up to four times.
Most kettles around the Valley will have the tiptap machines available, and COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including social distancing, mask-wearing and regular cleaning of the machines. For those who prefer to donate cash, kettles will still be available, and donations can also be made online.
Hobden noted the most disappointing part about this year is that volunteer bell ringers are discouraged to have conversations around the kettle and to share and listen to stories on how the Salvation Army has helped various individuals.
The goal for the Kettle Campaign this year in the Comox Valley is $130,000 along with a mail campaign of $160,000.
“We are expected our Kettle Campaign to be down a bit this year (due to COVID-19), but we’re hoping that our mail-in support may be stronger.”
Additionally, the organization will be providing Christmas hampers for those in need, but again, this year’s campaign will also look different. Because of the pandemic, rather than food and toys, everything has to be done with gift cards.
“Guests will be given the cards, and they can pick up what they like in a safe way. It does lose its special touch a little, but the demand is definitely there,” Hobden explained.
He added he expects the demand for the hamper program to be high; last year the Salvation Army provided 450 hampers, and this year they are expecting to hand out more than 700.
Throughout the pandemic, the Salvation Army never closed its doors and adapted their programs accordingly.
“Our stores were closed for safety, but right through COVID, even in March when things were shutting down, we shifted to door-to-door hampers and casework for family services was done over the phone or Zoom. I got to see how people felt abandoned and forgotten, especially those who were shut-ins. They would open the door a tiny little crack and would be so appreciative of the socially-distant connection.”
For more information or to donate to either the kettle or hamper campaigns, visit SalvationArmy.ca, visit the Salvation Army Thrift Stores or call the hamper line at 250-338-6200.