The Salvation Army is going high-tech this year for its annual Christmas Kettle campaign.
Maj. Bruce Shirran, executive director of the Bayside Mission Centre in downtown Barrie, explained this year's campaign will see 20 kettles set up across the city, as well as in Innisfil and Alliston, all of which will boast a new tap feature that will allow those interested in making a donation using their debit or credit card to still make a donation.
“We are excited about that. We have been using tap for a couple of years, but they didn’t take on really well. I think people just thought they were an advertisement, so we had them upgraded this year so that they are part of the kettle now. We want to encourage people to support us that way,” Shirran said.
“My hope is this year with the new designs for the tap machines that it will be more obvious to people," he added.
The campaign will run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23 and its goal is to raise $550,000.
“It’s significant for the community to know that the money raised in the city of Barrie through this program remains in the city," Shirran said. "It doesn’t go to any other Salvation Army location or facility. The money remains here to be used here at the Barrie Bayside Mission to support the Barrie community.”
Like many other local social-service agencies, Shirran says the Salvation Army is continuing to see the number of people using its services increase.
“There are so many people with so many different types of needs and we are trying to support everybody that comes to us," he said. "This type of fundraiser is significant so that we can try to meet every possible need for those that come to us, whether it’s groceries, clothing or housing.
"These dollars are integral in allowing us to be able to maintain that.”
The kettles were launched in the 1800s and have long served as the Salvation Army’s main fundraising campaign to help support the various programs and services that it provides to the community, Shirran said.
“Without these dollars, I don’t know that we could operate. The money is strategically important to all that we do in this centre," he said of the Bayfield Street location. "We have a community family services program that operates out of this facility, so the funding that comes in through this (campaign) goes back to support needs in the community."
They have already begun scheduling volunteers for shifts, but Shirran said they can always use more volunteers who are willing to stand at a kettle.
“We try to encourage volunteers to take a two-hour shift … They can sign up for as many shifts as they like and as many days throughout the campaign,” he added. “We are grateful to those who support us from a volunteer perspective and we are certainly grateful to those who support us by contributing to the kettle.
"We are grateful for their past support and we are grateful for their support going forward."
Shirran is also excited to officially kick off this year’s campaign with the return of the Hope in the City breakfast on Tuesday morning (Nov. 14), which was put on hold in recent years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.