The executive director of Yellowknife’s Salvation Army (SA) is confident they can still provide their usual Christmas services despite a lack of volunteers and donations.

“It has definitely been more of a concern this year than other years,” says Jason Brinson.

The SA’s annual holiday kettle drive started Nov. 12 to raise funds for food and toy hampers. Heading into the fourth week of an eight-week campaign, Brinson says the organization has achieved 36 per cent of its $45,00o donation goal—$4,300 behind where it was at the same time last year. As of Friday morning, the SA had only four volunteers out of a necessary ten for that day, with a similar lack of sign-ups for Saturday.

Brinson isn’t sure what’s behind the lack of volunteers and donations. The Covid-19 pandemic could be a factor, although he says several long-time volunteers have also recently moved away.

“I don’t think our six-to-eight [shifts] on Saturday have been covered yet this year,” says Brinson.

Even without volunteers at the kettle, passers-by can now make a donation by card just by tapping a machine. However, Brinson says they are able to attract substantially more donations when there’s a volunteer at the kettle.

In previous years, the SA has been able to exceed its goal for donations. These extra funds then go to other services throughout the year, such as sock drives or food vouchers for the co-op.

“Assistance to the community doesn’t stop for us after Christmas,” says Brinson.

Despite this year’s challenges, Brinson is confident the SA will still be able to provide its usual services, although they may have to depend on the generosity of the City of Yellowknife. Even so, “it’ll make our ability to assist to the volume that we think is needed much more difficult,” Brinson says.

“We don’t want people to have to worry about their Christmas meal and toys,” says Brinson. “We want to make sure every child has a toy under the tree.”

Prospective volunteers can sign up by emailing Brinson at Jason.Brinson@salvationarmy.ca. Yellowknifers who want to donate can find kettles at Canadian Tire, Walmart, the Yellowknife Co-op, and both Liquor Stores, plus a tap-only location at the SA thrift store.

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