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Christmas kettles appear for the season

Salvation Army needs help to help those in need
by Lisa Brown

Robert Aulenback has been manning Salvation Army Christmas kettles for 26 years.
 BRIDGEWATER - It's a familiar sign of Christmas that needs a helping hand to help others throughout the year.

 The Salvation Army's familiar Christmas kettles began appearing at shopping locations in and around Bridgewater November 17.

 The annual kettle campaign is the Salvation Army's most important fundraiser of the year. People's generosity at the holidays sets the assistance budget for the next 12 months.

 While some of the money generated by the kettle campaign is used to aid people over the holidays - individuals or couples who aren't eligible for other programs geared toward families - the amount raised dictates how many people can be helped during the following year.

 "The money is used throughout the year to support our services, which means help with food or shelter, any emergency need that might arise," says Capt. Stephen Holland.

 "We try to help where we can," he adds. "It could be something as simple as a personal hygiene item or medication. It could be oil or rent. Anything."

 Last year's kettle campaign raised just over $50,000. Capt. Holland is hoping to match or exceed that this year.

 While it might sound like a lot of money, he says it disappears quickly meeting the needs of the less fortunate here in Lunenburg County.

 For example, during the month of September the Salvation Army spent $5,000 helping people.

 "Most of that was food," Capt. Holland says. "Some of it is kids going back to school, where they have to get school supplies or they might need boots or sneakers and they use their money for that.

 "I think it's just a cycle where summer is over and now it's a different phase of living. I'm not sure why," he adds.

 And Capt. Holland expects the need for assistance will be great in the coming months.

 "With all these layoffs coming, I think it's going to get worse," he says.

 While that is a terrible thought, Capt. Holland finds joy in the Christmas programs as well.

 "The people who give to us care. Many times I've stood there and people have said to me ... 'thank you for what you're doing.' They know they can't do it, but they give $5 or $10 and they know that's going to go to somebody who needs it," he says.

 "The sad story is that there's people hurting in the world. The good story is that there's people who are willing to help those people."

 The red kettles will be around until December 24 at Atlantic Superstore, Canadian Tire, Bridgewater Mall and Sobeys. For the few days before Christmas there will also be a kettle outside the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation outlet at the Bridgewater Plaza. There is also one at the New Germany NSLC periodically throughout December.

 As always, the Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to man the kettles. It's a task anyone can do. Volunteers just stand or sit beside a kettle and say thank you to people who make donations.

 They don't have to be connected to the Salvation Army. Individuals, organizations, businesses, even other churches can and do help out over the season.

 "Ninety-seven per cent of the people don't belong to our church," Capt. Holland says.

 Since the kettles can't be left unattended, the more people volunteer, the more money is raised to help people in the coming year.

 Anyone wishing to assist with the kettle campaign can contact Capt. Stephen Holland at 527-3392.

posted on 11/23/11
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