The Salvation Army branches serving Huntsville and South Muskoka have started their Kettle Drive.
Huntsville’s started Thursday morning, while the drive for South Muskoka begins on Friday.
Major Neil Evenden with the Huntsville Salvation Army says the kettle drive is a significant fundraiser for them because it helps them continue with their programs year-round.
He says volunteers will be out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Wal-Mart, Independent, FreshCo, and Metro. That will change in Dec. when volunteers begin collecting donations at the LCBO from Monday until Saturday. “I can guarantee you will bump into us around town,” says Evenden.
He adds cheques can be dropped off at the Salvation Army’s Thrift Store at 80 Centre St. N. or at the church at 4 Mary St. E.
Evenden says all donations will be distributed in Huntsville.
In South Muskoka, this will mark the first kettle drive for April and Branden Keeping, who recently moved to Bracebridge.
Volunteers will be at the Wal-Mart in Bracebridge, Canadian Tire and Independent grocers in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, and the Sobey’s in Gravenhurst on Fridays and Saturdays until the week before Christmas when they will be collecting donations from Monday to Saturday.
Both kettle drives will wrap up on Christmas Eve.
The couple took over from Kam and Ian Robinson as the people in charge of the Salvation Army’s South Muskoka branch. “When you’re told you’re moving to Muskoka, there’s not a whole lot to complain about,” says Branden Keeping, adding they love spending time outside with their kids.
He adds that jumping into the job during the holiday season has been a challenge, especially helping clients deal with the rising cost of many essential goods. “It’s added a whole lot more urgency to what we’re doing,” he says.
In the couple’s four months in Bracebridge, Keeping says they have been seeing new clients almost every day. He points out they have seen more families with young children. “We’re really seeing an increase of first-time users which is alarming,” he says.
“It hasn’t been that significant of a rise,” says Evenden on if there has been an increase of clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he points out that more seniors and people working low-paying jobs are coming through their doors recently. “Those living on a fixed income have been hurt, especially in the last year with inflation being at such a high rate,” he explains.
“While we pop up in the news around Christmas time, we’re out there doing this work every day of the year,” says Keeping.
Moose FM’s radiothons for both Salvation Army branches are coming up next month. “It’s always a lot of fun,” says Evenden.
“To spend two days on the radio that’s going to be an interesting experience,” adds Keeping. “We have heard nothing but good things about it.”