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Valley generosity leads to new Christmas kettle fundraising record for Kentville Salvation Army

Capt. Kelly Fifield of the Kentville Salvation Army says things got off to a slow start but the Christmas Kettle Campaign gained momentum as time went on.
Capt. Kelly Fifield of the Kentville Salvation Army says things got off to a slow start but the Christmas Kettle Campaign gained momentum as time went on. - Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE, NS - It was a nail-biter at times but following another record-setting Christmas fundraising campaign, the Kentville Salvation Army recognizes it’s been blessed by Valley generosity.

Capt. Kelly Fifield said they were a little worried at first with regard to the Christmas Kettle Campaign. Funds were coming in very slowly and they were averaging at least 20 per cent behind the previous year throughout most of the season.

The organization depends on the donations to run programs and provide emergency assistance throughout the year – and to help people in need at Christmas.

“If we don’t have that, we have to recognize we have to be even tighter with what we are able to do,” Fifield said.

Kettle donations, walk-in donations and mail-in donations totalled $146,046 as of Jan. 9, with some mail-in donations yet to be tallied. This is shy of the $147,000 goal but it represents another record-setting fundraising campaign for the Kentville Salvation Army. Last year’s total was $142,000. It took the help of 295 volunteers to make this year’s kettle campaign a success.

Fifield said the specific goal for the 13 kettles between Windsor and Berwick was $122,000 and they brought in $109,700. Although kettle donations were down, walk-in and mail-in donations were up, totalling $36,346.

She said they put a push on about two weeks before Christmas to let people know the numbers were down and donations started to increase as a result. They were also low on toys for their hampers.

“We put out a massive call for that and people came out of the woodwork,” Fifield said.

Individuals and businesses stepped up, helped spread the word and Fifield was impressed by the quick response.

The Salvation Army supplied toys and gifts to 621 children in need aged 16 and under. Teenagers received Walmart gift cards and parents of children up to age 12 were able to visit a toy store set up at the Kentville Community Church, walk through and pick out a primary and secondary gift for each of their kids.

The charitable organization helped 552 families in the Valley region with Christmas food hampers, with the Salvation Army delivering 203 and 349 being delivered by the Kentville and New Minas Area Council of Churches.

“I believe because of the amazing work of the volunteers we had as well as our community stepping up, having a heart and supporting us, we were able to meet all of those needs this year,” Fifield said.

This was the first Christmas in the Kentville area for Fifield, her husband Cory and their children. She said it was a great experience. They witnessed the community’s generosity and saw how supportive people are when it comes to helping the Salvation Army.

She said there was a learning curve involved considering that it was their first year. There were a lot of unknowns but they were able to engage people, make a lot of contacts and forge some great relationships. This will help them in prepare in advance for next year’s campaign.

Fifield said the hampers went out on Dec. 20 and 21 but they were still receiving toy donations after that. This has allowed some to be inventoried for next Christmas so the charitable organization will have a head start in 2018.

She said they don’t give in abundance but the dollar value of the help they provided this Christmas – food hampers, toys and gift cards - was approximately $45,000.

“People aren’t walking out of here with bags that are overflowing by any means,” Fifield said. “That’s just our reality, that it does cost a lot to do Christmas but it is because of the generosity of this area, of the people, of the hearts of the people, that we were able to do what we were able to do.”

For the 14th year, co-ordinator Les Harris led the Christmas kettle campaign. Fifield said his experience and leadership again proved invaluable as he rallied and co-ordinated the volunteer effort.

Kettle worker Sheila Misner was also very helpful as she provided transportation for volunteers without vehicles and picked up donations at the end of fundraising days.

Click here for an earlier story about the 2017 kettle campaign.

Click here for a story on the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Click here for a story on a recent toy drive held in memory of Jacob Stern in benefit of the Kentville Salvation Army.

Click here for a story on the Kentville Salvation Army’s toy store and the need for toy donations.

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