The Salvation Army kicked off its annual Christmas campaign last week, with kettles going out to several locations in Summerside and beyond.
Money donated through the kettle campaign and generated through the annual mail out campaign helps fund the Salvation Army’s programs throughout the year, said community and family services co-ordinator Marj Montgomery.
But, added Montgomery, with food bank and soup kitchen usage up 15 to 20 per cent over last year, the need this Christmas is greater than ever before.
“There was in excess of 600 hampers handed out last year,” she said. “We expect to see an increase this year just because of the economy and changes to Employment Insurance.”
The Salvation Army began taking hamper applications Monday at its temporary location inside Town Centre in Summerside’s downtown and will continue to do so from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday until Nov. 30.
Those applying for a Christmas hamper must have photo ID, proof of their current address and their children’s health cards.
Hampers will be distributed on Dec. 19. Each hamper includes a turkey and everything else needed for a Christmas dinner.
Helping out the Salvation Army are the Kensington Lions Club, St. Eleanors Lions Club and Summerside Kinsmen and Kinettes with turkeys for the hampers collected through the annual CBC Turkey Drive.
Kettles are situated at the Summerside Superstore, Sobeys, at County Fair Mall, the Granville Street liquor store, Foodland and at the Kensington Save Easy and will be out this week Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Starting Nov. 28, kettles will be manned six days a week until Dec. 22.
Last year, the kettle campaign raised more than $56,000, in line with previous years.
“This year we are looking at raising $60,000,” said Montgomery.
With so many struggling to make ends meet and more people relying on the Salvation Army for help, donations could be down this year, she admitted.
But, added Montgomery, “The people of Prince County have always been really good to the Salvation Army. We appreciate everything they do for us.”