Red Deer-area residents have come through in tough times for the Salvation Army.
The recent Christmas kettle campaign raised $231,691 for local programs, including the Salvation Army food bank and school supplies drive.
Although the final tally from the Salvation Army’s biggest annual fundraiser is slightly below last year’s amount, Dene Okhifoh, the assistant director of community ministries, said 2017 donations did surpass the goal of $230,000 — which is a notable accomplishment during a difficult economy.
“The community definitely pulled together in support. They showed they’re ready to help other community members,” added Okhifoh, who feels the last few days of the campaign made a big difference.
“We thought we were going to be under by two or three thousand, but there was a last push.”
She expressed gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers — including sports teams, businesses and families — who stood by dozens of donation kettles at locations throughout the city.
“There were 90 slots a day that had to get filled. Without these individuals, couples and groups, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
The number of families who signed up for the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-family program was lower than a year ago, perhaps due to some Fort McMurray Fire evacuees no longer being in the area.
But Okhifoh said “it was only down a little bit,” and plenty of families still rely on Salvation Army help. “This was a tough Christmas for people, and you never know when a disaster is going to hit.”
Besides the Salvation Army’s clothing voucher program, the charitable organization also provides furniture and utility assistance programs in emergencies and according to eligibility.