Bells will be ringing across the Central Okanagan this season during the Westside Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign.
The campaign kicked off on Friday, Nov. 13, with Westbank First Nation Councillor Lorrie Hogaboam, West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom, and Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin making the first donations.
Due to the pandemic, the kettle campaign will look a little different this year.
Jennifer Henson the officer for the Westside Salvation Army said kettles will be equipped up with a new electronic option to donate.
“We have wireless debit machines called “tip tap,” it is a cashless way to give, where a donor can just tap the machine with their debit or credit card. The tip-tap machines will be set at $5 denominations and a donor can tap up to ten times,” she said.
Another change the community can expect to see is COVID-19 safety measures in place at every kettle, including social distancing, wearing a mask, hand sanitizing stations and regular cleaning of the machines and kettles.
The campaign has also added virtual kettles to help meet its fundraising goal. Anyone can sign up and create their own kettle and become a “virtual bell ringer.”
According to Westside Salvation Army’s Lenetta Parry, the year has been difficult for the charity due to the pandemic which is why it is setting the lofty Christmas goal of $255,000.
“We never thought we would be launching our kettle campaign in the middle of a global pandemic, neither did we expect to have to close our Thrift Store for three months due to COVID-19 and unfortunately, the challenges keep coming. Our team has made the difficult decision to reduce the number of locations and hours our kettles will be out in our community in the name of safety. At the same time, we continue to see an increase in demand for our programs and services,” she said.
This holiday season the Westside Salvation Army is expecting to help more than 100 families and serve nearly 300 children through their “Christmas Gifts of Hope program.”
The campaign runs from Nov. 13 to Dec. 24, except Sundays.
Kettle volunteers are also needed for two-hour shifts at seven locations. Those locations include; Peachland IGA, Save On Foods, BC Liquor Store, Superstore, Walmart, London Drugs and Nesters Market. To help volunteer for kettles this year, please call 250-258-RING.
All kettles will accept cash, debit, credit card and tip tap. People can watch for the Westside Salvation Army’s annual mail campaign in their mailboxes and donations can be made by phone at 250-768-1850, online at www.westsidesa.ca or in-person at 101- 3531 Old Okanagan Highway.
For those needing a little extra help this holiday season, online registration for the Salvation Army’s “Christmas Gifts of Hope” program is now open until November 22nd, please visit www.westsidesa.ca or call 778-484-9790.