Holiday fundraising efforts underway

Trevor Gerwing looks on while his wife, Megan Gerwing, makes a cash donation to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign Nov. 21.

Trevor Gerwing looks on while his wife, Megan Gerwing, makes a cash donation to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign Nov. 21.

by Phil Ambroziak

Much like Christmas itself, the Salvation Army in Meadow Lake’s biggest fundraising campaign comes but once a year.

The Salvation Army kicked off its Empty Stocking Fund last week with the 10th annual Battle of the Badges hockey game held Nov. 21 at the Meadow Lake and District Arena. The event, which saw members of the local RCMP once again compete against Meadow Lake firefighters, attracted a modest crowd willing to show their support for the Salvation Army and the people it supports throughout the holiday season. Along with a silver collection, food items were also collected during the game and will be used to create Christmas hampers for the needy.

“Battle of the Badges is usually our biggest fundraising event of the year,” explained Maj. Peter Eason of the Salvation Army. “After that, our other fundraising efforts include our Christmas Kettle Campaign. For a number of decades – about 35 years – we’ve also held a radio show on CJNS the first Saturday in December.”

Eason added, he’s always confident the community will come through and provide enough support to not only get the organization through the holidays, but the year that lies ahead as well.

“Miniature Christmas Kettles will be set up at various businesses throughout the city while Madill’s Drugs and Extra Foods will serve as the traditional Kettle locations between now and Christmas Eve,” Eason said. “Overall, we’re hoping and praying we can crack the $10,000 mark this year. We’d love to meet that goal, but if not we won’t be dissuaded.”

Eason went on to say the financial support received via the Christmas Kettle Campaign increases year-to-year, reiterating the fact all money collected goes first and foremost to ensuring there is more than enough to stock Christmas hampers with both food and toys.

“Whatever is left over will be used to carry us through until next year,” he added.
These remaining funds go toward various services the Salvation Army provides year-round, some of which include one-on-one counselling and funding summer camp trips for local youth.

“The Salvation Army wouldn’t be in this community going on 80 years now if not for the tremendous support and generosity of the people of Meadow Lake,” Eason said.
As for the number of people who access Christmas hampers through the Salvation Army, Eason said that too has increased in recent years.

“A substantial amount of people apply for hampers each year,” he said. “We always prepare 100-plus hampers, and they’re well-packed hampers.”

Meanwhile, another charitable holiday initiative took place recently in Meadow Lake, as well as the Northwest and Canada as a whole, when thousands of shoeboxes filled with toys and other items were collected for impoverished children around the world. Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and development organization Samaritan’s Purse, was looking to gather 600 shoeboxes from Meadow Lake.

“We don’t know exactly how many we have yet because it’s still collection week,” explained local coordinator Trina Cappelle. “I’ve been involved with Operation Christmas Child for several years now and each year varies, but we usually collect an average of 500 boxes from Meadow Lake.”

Cappelle said it’s an initiative participants look forward to contributing to each year.

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