Red Deer’s Salvation Army saw about 40 fewer people apply to its Adopt-A-Family program this Christmas.
“Some speculation is we did have extra families last year that were from Fort McMurray who lost their homes or had been displaced for a period of time and they were in Red Deer. Many of them applied for assistance,” Maj. Larry Bridger said on Friday.
Red Deer Christmas Bureau also gave out 100 fewer hampers this week.
Bridger said about 195 families and individuals received Salvation Army hampers this week compared to 244 people last year. Normally about 185 hampers go out, so the need is up slightly.
On Wednesday ATCO employees are given time off to deliver the hampers.
“They’ve been doing it for many, many years and it helps us. It’s quite a lot. Our church auditorium gets filled up with packages.”
Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign had raised $182,000 as of Dec. 19. Kettles will be at 11 locations around the city until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The goal is to raise $230,000.
This year the program runs 30 days compared to 32 last year, Bridger said.
“That might make a difference at the end but we’ll see.”
It’s the second year a kettle has been set up at Costco in Gasoline Alley for the last two weeks before Christmas which is a good location. In the past kettles were only allowed there a couple of weekends, he said.
“Costco has been very good to us.”
Money dropped into the kettles fund Salvation’s regular programs like its weekend backpack program that provides food for students in need on the weekend.
“During the year we’re working with 14 different schools now and we’re feeding about 219 children every weekend. That’s our biggest program. That alone costs us in excess of $100,000 in food alone.
“We really depend on people to respond and fill the kettles. That’s our big fundraiser of the year.”