Christmas is a time of joy for many, but also one of stress for those struggling financially.
Hundreds of parents looking for a little help to put presents under the Christmas tree for their kids, will turn to the Salvation Army Community and Family Services Centre in Victoria, where they can shop for toys for free.
The toy shop opened Nov. 24, but there aren’t enough items for the estimated 700 families who might use the service from now until Christmas, making the need for new, unwrapped toy donations and the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign greater than ever.
“Some of the families just wouldn’t be able to celebrate with giving at Christmas, like the unwrapping of presents,” said Kyla Ferns, the Salvation Army’s special projects officer, adding there is a large need for gifts for boys over age seven.
“It’s sad because it’s not what Christmas is, but it’s a big part of Christmas – the gifts and the tree and that tradition, and Christmas just wouldn’t feel the same if you didn’t have that,” Ferns said.
The Salvation Army’s 120th annual kettle campaign was also launched Thursday, and donations can now be made at any of the 40 kettles set up across the Capital Region, until Christmas.
The goal of the not-for-profit’s largest fundraiser is to generate $250,000, so that people-in-need throughout the region can still access Christmas programs and year-round services. Last year, $224,000 in the region.
Kettles will be out Monday to Saturday until Christmas Eve, but that will only be possible if more people volunteer their time as bell-ringers, said Ferns.
In past years, the Salvation Army has paid bell-ringers who use the organization’s programs, “who just need a little bit of extra money during the holidays,” Fern said.
In addition to volunteering, there are many ways people can donate.
Text HOPE to 45678 to donate $5, set up a virtual kettle online at salvationarmy.ca/ikettle, give to any kettle across Canada at fillthekettle.com, or call 1-800-725-2769.
Drop off new, unwrapped toys and gift cards for the Salvation Army’s toy shop at the Community and Family Services Centre, 2695 Quadra St., or call 250-386-8521.