With the recession, this past year may have meant tough times for many Canadians, but the Salvation Army has seen worse.
The Christmas kettle campaign, which started 117 years ago in San Francisco and reached Canada in 1906, has been through World War I, the Great Depression and World War II, said Salvation Army spokesman Michael Maidment.
And through those times, the Salvation Army and its iconic Christmas kettles have remained a symbol of hope across the country for millions of Canadians, Maidment said.
Launched at the St. Laurent Centre Thursday, the annual Christmas kettle campaign is the organization’s most recognizable fundraiser, said Maidment.
This year’s campaign goal is $500,000, up from last year’s goal. The money, which goes directly into the community, will help over 5,000 Ottawans this Christmas, he said.
“We’re providing toys for children, a hot meal to someone in need and a warm bed to someone who’s homeless,” Maidment said. “When you give to the campaign, you’re giving hope to those people in the community.”
Mayor Larry O’Brien, who was on hand to launch the campaign with a donation, said he’s confident Ottawans will step up to give.
“I often describe the City of Ottawa as the most sophisticated, caring, loving and giving village in the world,” he said.
In Canada, 3.5 million people, including 800,000 children, live in poverty, said Maidment.
Maidment expects that more than 500 volunteers will give 12,000 hours to man kettles at 40 locations in the capital, including malls and Costco, Walmart and Loblaws stores.
The success of the campaign is contingent upon volunteers, said Maidment, and more are always needed.
The campaign runs through Dec. 24.