Concerns are mounting over this years’ Salvation Army Kettle Campaign as the annual charity drive winds to close with substantial shortfalls across Canada.
Nationally, the charity has reported that it’s about $9-million short of the $21-million fundraising target.
In Vernon, the goal this year is $500,000, and as of Wednesday, Kristin Ford, Volunteer and Kettle Coordinator says the local faction is tracking about $188,873 behind, with a total of $311,127.
“We’re definitely down,” Ford said.
“But the whole district is down. It’s been a rough year.”
Compared to the 2016 campaign, she said the kettles are down approximately $12,000 from where they were at this time last year.
In the “grand scheme of things,” she noted that Vernon is not lagging as much as some communities.
“But, we’re still down,” she said. “And that’s never easy to see.”
Ford attributes the shortfall to “donation fatigue.”
“We had the fires and the floods this year, and people donated a lot during that time, so I think they’re just tapped out.”
She said a decrease in the number of volunteers, and subsequently kettles placed throughout the community, could also be contributing to the lower numbers.
On the bright side, Ford said, the volunteers that are out, are dedicated and very much appreciated. Most notably, she said events like Walmart’s annual “double down” day make a big difference in helping the organization reach its goal.
On Saturday, Dec. 16, volunteers positioned at the Walmart Vernon Supercentre brought in $2,757 in donations, which the retail giant promises to match.
She said the final week of the campaign is typically when they see the most money coming in.
With the campaign officially ending on Saturday, Ford is hoping for a similar “miracle day” to help them hit their target.
Lt. Stefan Reid, co-executive director of the Salvation Army in Vernon, is cautiously optimistic that they will reach their goal, or come “really close.”
“We’re expecting more donations,” he said. “But either way, we’re still thrilled with the response from the community and we know there are other organizations around town doing fundraisers around the holidays and we’re just happy that Vernon has supported us so far.”
Money raised through the campaign is allocated to support programming, and Reid says if they don’t meet their goal, programming will continue, some of it may just have to be “revamped” based on any budgetary constraints.
The Salvation Army is active in over 400 communities in Canada, but donations made locally stay in the community. The Kettle campaign runs annually across Canada between Nov.23 and Dec.23.
Donations can be made at any Salvation Army kettle in the community, by mail or online.