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Estevan Salvation Army has a $90,000 goal for this year’s Christmas campaigns

Kettles and letter appeal will raise funds for Estevan programs.
Estevan Salvation Army director of ministry Ronza Reynard is looking forward to this year’s Christmas campaigns.

ESTEVAN - The Estevan Salvation Army is getting ready for what is typically its busiest time of the year.

The organization has set a goal of $90,000 for its Christmas campaign. It hopes to generate $20,000 through its kettle drive and another $70,000 for its letter appeal. The letters are to be sent to homes in the community soon.

Last year the Salvation Army had a goal of $90,000 as well, a figure they surpassed. Director of ministry Ronza Reynard said they’re optimistic they’ll be able to eclipse the $90,000 mark again.

“Costs have gone up,” she said. “We have seen a 29 per cent increase in adults this year using the food bank, and a 42 per cent increase in children using the food bank. Cost of food so far this year is … an additional 12 per cent.”

The Salvation Army believes their expense and their client load will continue to increase.

“This is by far our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Reynard.

The ministry wants to continue with programs it offers for the community. Not only does it operate the foodbank, but it has a back-to-school backpack initiative, a school lunch effort, a seniors’ lunch a couple of times each month and other efforts. The fundraising at Christmas time helps them operate their programs for the start of the year. 

“We appreciate every toonie and loonie that goes into those kettles. It does add up,” said Reynard.

The Salvation Army has already started reaching out to individuals, businesses and service groups to see if they would be interested in volunteering at their kettles. They will be at Walmart and the Southern Plains Co-op’s grocery store every day except for Sunday from Dec. 1-24.

Kettles will also be located at Clifton’s No Frills three times per week and the Estevan Market Mall twice a week. There will also be what Reynard called a “countertop tip tap” at the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority liquor store in Estevan.

“The last two years, we’ve had a new machine at the kettle where you could just touch your debit card or credit card to a dollar value, so we’re going to have one of those at the liquor store and that will be there all of the time in December,” said Reynard.

People can use their debit and credit cards to donate at the co-op and at Walmart.

Reynard said they also need volunteers to stock shelves, put away groceries at the food bank or help with work around the building.

The Salvation Army will also be filling Christmas hampers this year, and is partnering with the Estevan Community Hamper Association to get as many people signed up who need assistance at Christmas for food and/or toys.

She’s not surprised that the Salvation Army has been busier than in previous years. They’re seeing the trend at the Weyburn location, and it’s happening at a lot of food banks in Saskatchewan and across the Prairies.

“More and more people are coming through our doors, either for the first time or on a more consistent basis. We just want to be able to accept everybody when they come and have stuff for them,” said Reynard. 

The Salvation Army has seen more people coming in with a monetary donation for the food bank as opposed to groceries. That money is then used to replenish the food bank’s shelves.

“Sometimes it’s easier to drop off $20 or a cheque or something to us, and then we use that money to go and pay for food,” said Reynard. “This money is helping us make the food bank a better place.”

Earlier this year, the Salvation Army shifted to a grocery store format for the foodbank. Clients get to walk through the store to select the food they need.

“It will increase the dignity to the people that come to us. It will increase the amount of money that we can save on the things that we don’t really need in our food bank. And it gives us better buying power to have fresh fruits and vegetables and your dairies and your meats – things that we can put in the hamper and that just makes a better hamper for the individual or family that comes and sees us.”

Despite the growing demand, the Salvation Army’s food stocks are in good shape. The Blow Away Hunger promotion with Golden West Broadcasting will happen at the Southern Plains Co-op’s Estevan grocery store on Nov. 17. Blow Away Hunger will also happen at co-op locations in Oxbow and Carlyle that day to help efforts in those communities.

Other food drives are planned in the Estevan area in the coming weeks.

Also, the Estevan Bruins’ Teddy Bear Toss night will happen on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. during a game against the La Ronge Ice Wolves. When the Bruins score their first goal of the night, fans will toss their teddy bears and other stuffed animals on the ice.

And the CP Rail Holiday Train, which generates donations for the food bank, will be stopping in Estevan on Dec. 18 at 5 p.m. Kelly Prescott and Alan Doyle are scheduled to provide entertainment.

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