Bowden mother Heather Marshall with daughter Ellis Wilting were volunteering at The Red Deer Salvation Army on Christmas Day. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Salvation Army feeds people on Christmas Day

Year after year, The Red Deer Salvation Army feeds the hungry on Christmas Day.

This year was no different.

Normally about 200 people rely upon the agency for a Christmas meal and around the same number was expected this year.

About 22 meals were delivered to seniors and those with disabilities this year – a service the agency provides to those who can’t make it to the annual dinner.

The volunteer interest this year for the Christmas dinner was high said Major Larry Bridger, pastor and director adding the agency received about 80 requests and was in need of about 25.

“We always get a large number of people asking, but that’s a fairly high number,” he said.

One Bowden mother, Heather Marshall, brought her two children to volunteer Wednesday, noting many of her family members dedicate their time for others during the holidays.

“A few years ago, we would come every other Christmas, my mom and her husband come every year and I think this is their 12th year, so this year there’s seven family members here – seven adults and two kids,” she explained.

The central Alberta mother want her children to carry on the family tradition.

“I want them to live a life of service, and understand they’re blessed and I want them to grow up to be kind.”

This Thanksgiving The Salvation Army in Red Deer fed 300 people – a new record for the local Salvation Army. Bridger said the turnout for Christmas is usually lower than Thanksgiving supper.

Bridger said this Thanksgiving the numbers exceeded their expectation, which was around 230.

“It could be more people that have needs this year, I know there are certainly more people who have lost jobs so they take advantage of a good meal,” said Bridger.

The agency also had a higher request for Christmas hampers this season – an increase of 30 per cent among seniors and eight per cent among families.

The Red Deer Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign numbers are yet to be tallied, but Bridger hopes they’ll meet the goal of $245,000.

The agency was sitting at about $228,000 as of Saturday.

“I think this year the economy has played a part… but the public has been good to us.”

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