© Scott Anderson
Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer cuts the ribbon to formally open the Salvation Army's Miracle Room at the Swift Current Mall. The Salvation Army has set a $175,000 fundraising goal for their 2013 Christmas Campaign.
Even though Christmas is still over a month away, the Swift Current Salvation Army is hoping the Christmas spirit will help them reach their $175,000 fundraising goal during their annual Christmas Appeal.
"Swift Current is such an amazing community. It's such a generous community. And as such we've been able to provide help for the most vulnerable and the marginalized in society to such amazing levels over the past few years that I have every confidence that this year we'll be able to do the same and meet every need that arises at Christmas time," noted Captain Michael Ramsay from The Salvation Army.
Their financial target of $175,000 is the approximate equivalent of a $10 donation per person in Swift Current and immediate area.
"Again it really speaks to the generosity of the people in this community and so I have every faith that we will be able to meet that need again. Because with that we're able to make sure everybody has the Christmas hampers, has the meal on Christmas Day, the kids are able to get that one toy they really want underneath the tree that just makes everybody's Christmas so much better. And it also helps through all the stuff we do throughout the year helping the most vulnerable in our society."
This past Saturday was a special celebration for the Salvation Army, as they hosted both their annual Kettle Campaign Kickoff along with recognizing the opening of the Miracle Room at the Swift Current Mall. To observe the campaign launch they held a community pancake breakfast.
"It is a feel good day. It's a day to celebrate what's ahead. And what's ahead is a lot of hard work. And it's a lot of hard work providing hope to those who are the most vulnerable and the most needy in the community. And it's a celebration that we know that we'll rise to the challenges that's before us and that we will be able to help those in need," Captain Ramsay said.
The arrival of winter conditions on the weekend also signalled the start of the pressures which accompany the Christmas season.
"Throughout the winter season, as we've got the snow falling down today and when temperatures are starting to drop, is when you really see the needs in a community start to rise. And whereas families before hand may have just been able to make it past, you find as the weather shifts, and as the seasons shift, it often is just that one little thing that pushes people that much over the edge."
"It can be an overwhelming time of year. I would encourage anybody, when you're out there doing your shopping and reminded of all of that, and you walk past a kettle, think about those who are in real need this time of year. Every little bit that a person puts into a kettle goes a long way towards helping those in need. And there's lots of opportunities throughout this Christmas season."
Captain Ramsay shared that some people who have gone through a struggling time over the past year are now returning to offer their time, help and money.
"They're simply saying 'I'm OK now. So I want to say thank you and I want to give back myself.' And that really, I think, is a big part of what the Christmas season at the Salvation Army is all about. The Bible talks about loving God and loving your neighbour, and our Christmas campaign is one way to effectively show that indeed."
At Saturday's Salvation Army Christmas Campaign kickoff pancake breakfast, nine-year-old Osten Poh had a table set up collecting donations for the Dairy Department. Organized by Poh, the Dairy Department is a supplement program to the Food Bank, collecting funds in order to provide dairy products like milk, cheese and butter for families and individuals accessing the Food Bank.
"I couldn't be prouder of Osten and his program. He's just absolutely amazing. He and his parents are a real part of our team right now. They really are. Again, if anybody wants to donate to help out the Dairy Department and Osten's program, that goes a long way to providing dairy products to kids that otherwise wouldn't have it."
Capt. Ramsay noted that Christmas Hamper registrations run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 5 (Monday to Thursday at the Salvation Army from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) for those who need a little extra help at Christmas. Christmas Hampers will be picked up (by appointment with ticket only) from Dec. 17 to 19.
The community has a variety of methods to support the Salvation Army's initiatives this holiday season, including:
Thursday - Christmas Tree Lighting.
Dec. 4 - Teddy Bear Toss at Swift Current Bronco game.
Dec. 6 - CPR Holiday Train.
Dec. 20 - Lunch at Soup and Such for The Salvation Army Christmas Campaign.
"So at this time of year it's a real blessing that Swift Current, as a community, often and always does step up to help out because that way we can make everybody's Christmas a very special Christmas. And we can really bring hope to everybody, no matter what situation they have coming into the season."
The Salvation Army holds their Christmas Eve Service on Dec. 24 at 6:30 p.m. They have their Christmas Church Service at 1 p.m. on Dec. 25, followed by the community Christmas Dinner at 2 p.m.