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Salvation Army Kettle Campaign underway in Port aux Basques

Pastor Maurice Collins is the ministry unit leader for the Channel-Port aux Basques branch of the Salvation Army.
Pastor Maurice Collins is the ministry unit leader for the Channel-Port aux Basques branch of the Salvation Army. - J. R. Roy

Group hopes to do better this year as food bank demand rises

PORT AUX BASQUES, NL – It’s that time of year again already.

Grocery stores are selling more turkeys, hams and cranberry, and more people are wandering through the mall looking for gifts while they listen to chipper Christmas music.

For Pastor Maurice Collins, ministry unit leader for the town’s Salvation Army, Christmas shoppers who pass by play a key role in the organization’s ability to assist families in our region who might need a bit more help.

The Salvation Army kettles are in their customary spots around town, including at both grocery stores, and will continue to accept monetary donations until 8 p.m. on Dec. 23.

“A hundred percent,” says Collins about how much of the money collected from the kettles will remain in the community to help the less fortunate.

 

The Salvation Army band kicked off its kettle campaign by performing at the Grand Bay Mall on Nov 24. - Pastor Maurice Collins
The Salvation Army band kicked off its kettle campaign by performing at the Grand Bay Mall on Nov 24. - Pastor Maurice Collins

 

Last year’s donations weren’t as strong as the Salvation Army had hoped, but already the group believes there has been a small improvement this year.

 

“Quite pleasing what we got the weekend,” said 80-year-old Sadie Shears, who hails from Deer Lake and has been with the Salvation Army all of her life.

Fellow Salvation Army volunteer Terry Kettle has been a member for over 30 years and also pitches in to help out every year.
“I just got back from Fort McMurray,” he said after a shift.

The group kicked off the kettle campaign at the Grand Bay Mall on Friday, Nov. 24 with an hour of music, and will return again on Dec. 21. They also entered a float in the parade this year for the first time in years, and Collins helped collect donations along the route.

“We’re trying to run a stronger campaign this year,” said Collins. “We just want people to know that we’re more than just a helping organization. We’re also a church, and we want the community to realize that we’re there for them no matter what.”

In addition to the kettle campaign, the Salvation Army also operates the local thrift store and the food bank, located in the Salvation Army church basement.

“Demand has been up,” confirmed Collins. “We have been busy.”

Currently the food bank is looking for a few more shelf staples, like tea and coffee, or sugar and flour.

Collins is also trained in emergency services, and said in the event of an unforeseen crisis such as a home fire, the Salvation Army is prepared to help out. The group also runs a drop-in men’s coffee club on Friday mornings at 9:30 at the church.

“We solve the world’s problems in half an hour,” jokes Collins about the non-threatening, no-commitment coffee club.

The Port aux Basques branch of the church helps those in need from Codroy Valley to Rose Blanche. Collins estimates they regularly support between 150 to 200 families this time of year.

He said demand increases as the holiday season stretches already thin budgets past the breaking point.

It’s a challenge Collins intends to meet.

“I had people coming in this morning, filling out their Christmas applications, getting their food and toys,” said Collins. “A single mother, living on $300 besides their family allowance? It’s not a lot of money.”

That little money can often come down to a choice between heat and food. Throw in kids wanting that special toy from Santa or needing school supplies, and the choice becomes all but impossible.

Last year the Salvation Army didn’t even meet half of its fundraising goal on the kettles. But Collins has faith in the region’s generous residents, and hopes the upswing in donations will continue.

“The community is fantastic,” said Pastor Collins. “(They’re) behind the food bank 100 per cent.”

The food bank operates every Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1p.m. For those needing assistance or information, Collins can always be reached at 746-3618.

Rosalyn.roy@gulfnews.ca

Twitter: @tygerlylly

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