By Phil McLachlan
The Salvation Army has officially begun the collection for their Christmas Cheer Kettle, signifying the start of the holiday season.
A long-standing tradition for the Salvation Army, the Cheer Kettle is their main fundraising event for the year which allows them to give back to the less-fortunate. Their hope is to raise $27,000 between now and December 24.
Major Edith Dean has been serving with the Salvation Army for over 40 years, and couldn’t be happier to do so. Although she has committed much of her life to serving others, the Salvation Army itself goes back a lot longer than 40 years. 2016 marked the 116th year of the Salvation Army’s presence in Fernie.
“This time of year is always an exciting time,” said Dean, smiling.
People across Fernie have the chance to donate to this cause through four different locations. Save-on-Foods and Ann’s Independent Grocer have the Christmas kettle’s in place, and there will be two more set up at the Liquor Store and Canadian Tire in early December.
Save-on-Foods is also offering $5 food bags that you can purchase in support of the community.
The Salvation Army is hoping for another kettle in Sparwood, if they are able to get enough volunteers for a weekend in December.
Beside the Cheer Kettle in each location is the Angel Tree, in which people can choose an angel and purchase a gift for an unknown child of a certain age.
As well, on December 8 there will be an Angel Tree set up at the courthouse, and the Fernie Ghostriders will be involved with organizing this event.
“It’s always exciting to see the smile on a child’s face when they get that gift,” said Dean. “It’s pretty exciting for the parents as well.”
In addition to raising money for the less fortunate through the Christmas Cheer Kettles, there is also a Christmas Mailer, which goes out in the mail to the communities in the Elk Valley requesting donations.
This is the first year for Dean and her husband in Fernie, as they have just moved from Calgary. Although this community is new for her, Dean has been a part of the Salvation Army community, her entire life.
“I was raised into the Salvation Army, and I’ve been a part of it all my life,” said Dean. “It’s great to be part of an organization that helps other people, and it’s great to be a part of an organization that has a church which focuses on programs and services for people as well as fundraising efforts.”
The total goal for the Christmas campaign this year is $72,000. Last year the Salvation Army met this goal, and they are hoping to do so again. With a constant need for help, Dean stressed that anyone willing to volunteer will be welcomed with open arms. Anyone interested in doing so can contact her at 250-946-5005.