Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:10

Salvation Army in Swift Current exceeded Christmas fundraising goal

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Christmas Day meal was well attended. Christmas Day meal was well attended.

The support from the community in the Swift Current area helped the Salvation Army to exceed the fundraising goal of the 2017 Christmas campaign.

The organization set a goal of $215,000 for the 104th annual Christmas campaign in Swift Current, and the final fundraising total at the end of December was $231,775.
“We are very appreciative of the support that we get from Swift Current and area,” Major Don Grad said. “It always is quite exciting and amazing to see how people respond and provide support. I’m very humbled, because we are supported well and we pray that we’ll be good stewards of what we have been given so that we can serve the community to the best of our ability.”
This was the fourth year in a row that the fundraising total was over $200,000 and in 2016 the Christmas campaign raised a record amount of $249,181.
“So that’s very encouraging and we are very grateful for that support,” he said. “We want to continue to try to do what we do. We want to be a connected part in the community in that we share food, we share our kitchen with many different agencies in the community. ... We want to be an interconnected part of sharing with the community as well.”
The additional funds that were raised during the 2017 Christmas campaign will benefit the operation of the food bank in Swift Current.
“We’ve thought about using some part-time people with our food bank and related activities, and so this little bit extra now gives us some flexibility in terms of budgeting for a second part-time person,” he said. “It makes things easier in terms of our efficiency of operation.”
The annual fundraising goal for the Christmas campaign is based on the anticipated costs to operate the food bank and Salvation Army activities.
“So that’s a number that’s reflected in our actual budget as the need to support the operation,” he said. “At the end of the day I believe God will provide in terms of the big picture, but I think it’s great to be able to celebrate going over. The $215,000 represents the basic number from budget and actual financial reports et cetera of what we need to keep the doors and the food bank and the kitchen and all that open and running.”
A total of 284 food hampers were prepared and distributed in the week before Christmas. These hampers went to 299 adults and 258 children or youth. A similar number of hampers were provided during the 2016 Christmas campaign.
“I would estimate that we’re about even in terms of total people reached with the hampers,” he said. “We have seen a number of new faces this year, both in terms of throughout the year and for the Christmas hampers, which is kind of typical. Some people we used to give hampers to, didn’t apply this time, and we can only assume that things have improved for them and that’s a great thing.”
The total weight of all the hampers was about 30,000 pounds, which represented about 22,000 pounds of non-perishable food and about 8,000 pounds of potatoes, meat, bread and milk.
Hundreds of volunteers hours were used to sort food donations and then to pack and distribute the food hampers.
“As far as volunteers go, this year was probably as good and even a little bit better than previous years,” he noted. “We had lots of help with the kettles, and our volunteer organizer for the kettles said this was probably one of the better years she’s had in terms of filling the shifts. … She had a whole bunch of new people who phoned and volunteered and did a number of kettle shifts.”
The Salvation Army hosted the annual community dinner on Christmas Day, and there was a good turnout. There were about 160 guests and over 50 volunteers.
“We probably had about similar numbers at the Christmas dinner as we did last year,” he said.
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“It was just nice to hear the chatter as people were talking and being able to socialize and enjoy the meal and spent a part of Christmas Day with other people around them.”
Each Christmas campaign involves a lot of planning and coordination. Major Grad described it as a process of continuous improvements to ensure the campaign's success.
“Whether that’s in how we operate the Christmas campaign, how we organize food in the food bank, or whatever,” he said. “I like to think we learn or remember from year to year various things that have worked, and so in one sense there was a lot of hard work, a lot of organizing of the kind that you don’t see, but at the same time we learned from last year what worked so that we can we incorporate it again when we think of the 2018 campaign.”
For example, attendance of the luncheon event on Hutterite appreciation day improved significantly in 2017 due to changes that were made to inform colony residents of the event. Changes were made to the handling of donations to the food bank to make it easier to have the food ready for the packing of the Christmas hampers.
“We’ve changed the way we sort the food in the fall and pack the hampers,” he said. “They used to pack the hampers just on the floor, but we started packing them on tables. It makes it easier, not so much bending and things like that.”
These changes are made through input from those who are involved in the campaign, including volunteers.
“As one person contributes an idea, one of the volunteers says how if we do it this way and so many voices speak into the process to try and make it the best we can,” he mentioned.
He is hopeful the 2018 Christmas campaign will also be a success and they will incorporate some of the lessons from last year's campaign.
“For 2018 I’m optimistic that we’ll be as successful and I’m saying that God willing, but we don’t ever want to take people for granted,” he said. “That’s why I like to say thank you so much. We see what we’ve been given, and in humility we want to try to be good stewards and that’s why we like to identify that we see ourselves as being a connected part of the community and that we help others do some of the stuff that they do. ... We want to be part of the community and connect in various ways, because that’s what makes the community work and we can’t do everything, but we can help others in various ways as they can help us.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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