After a busy Christmas shopping weekend, the Salvation Army was still thousands of dollars short of its Christmas kettle goal. But nonetheless, hundreds of local families in need had food to fill their bellies and gifts to put under their trees this Christmas.
“The community has just been great,” said Salvation Army community and family services director Beverleigh Broughton. “Certainly, the community has come through with toy donations.”
At the end of last week, the organization had packed and distributed 1,140 food hampers and 800 toy hampers – a number that represents far more actual children, she said.
To make all those hampers happen, the organization relies on charitable donations. The toys are donated by generous community members, and the majority of the food is purchased using the cash donations that people drop into Salvation Army kettles at locations around town.
After Saturday, the kettles had collected about $117,000 – still pretty shy of the fundraising goal of $155,000.
“We have a fair bit to make-up today, but the community is always so good to us,” Broughton said on Christmas Eve.
The kettles were to remain out until 2 p.m. Christmas Eve to collect donations from those last minute shoppers. After Christmas, people won’t see the kettles anymore, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still make donations.
The Salvation Army office on Gordon Street is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 27, 28 and 31, and people are welcome to stop by the office to make donations, said Broughton.
The fundraising goal and the number of hampers distributed are about the same as last year, but “last year, we hit our target much sooner,” she said.
Though the bulk of the hampers have already gone out, there will also be some last-minute requests, she said.
“We’ll be giving out probably a few more,” she said.
The last-minute requests come in from people who thought they’d be OK on their own, but then find out they’re struggling, said Broughton.
They will all be served, she assured. Everyone in need will get food, and as long as the supply of donated toys holds out, they will likely get toys, too, she said.
Of course, the Salvation Army is not the only organization providing hampers for families in need this holiday season.
The Guelph Food Bank, the Drop In Centre, the St. Vincent De Paul Society and Lakeside HOPE House all do some sort of hamper program.
“We work together in a common way, so that it’s equitable and so that nobody gets missed,” said Broughton. She couldn’t say exactly how many hampers went out altogether this year, but there were certainly hundreds more than the Salvation Army’s 1,140 total.
Lakeside provided about 300, and the Children’s Foundation Adopt-A-Family program also provides gifts and food vouchers for hundreds of families, although confidentiality issues prevent the latter organization from co-ordinating with the other hamper programs, said Broughton.