Moose FM is gearing up for its annual radiothons in support of Muskoka’s Salvation Army branches.
In Bracebridge, the Kids Christmas Wish Radiothon for the Salvation Army South Muskoka Ministries will run from 6 AM to 6 PM on Thursday, Dec. 8 and 9 on 99.5 Moose FM while the radiothon for the Huntsville Salvation Army will only be hosted during the same time only on Friday on 105.5 Moose FM.
“We’re feeling excited but a little bit nervous, too,” says Lt. April Keeping. She and her husband Lt. Brandon Keeping moved from New Liskeard where they worked for that area’s Salvation Army. “It’s hard to imagine exactly how it will go,” she says as she prepares for her and Brandon’s first radiothon.
Major Neil Evenden of Salvation Army Huntsville says this time of year is especially busy for the branch, with initiatives such as Project Porchlight and the food hamper program keeping their clients stocked through the holidays.
“It’s a busy week, but a successful week, and we’re looking forward to a good radiothon on Friday,” says Evenden. “Moose FM has been very faithful to us.”
Evenden says the branch has seen a shift in food bank users, with more families using their services than before. While most of the funds raised will go towards next year’s operational costs, he says they’ll also be used to add fresh food to the Christmas hampers.
“We are buying apples and oranges, carrots and potatoes– all sorts of things to make sure our hampers are not just the canned goods but are also a mix of healthy, perishable foods that are expensive to buy,” says Evenden. “The more [money] we get, the more we can buy.”
“I think what we see here is a continuation of similar trends,” says Keeping about what she sees in South Muskoka. She points out that while South Muskoka is much larger than New Liskeard, the need is similar. Keeping says a wide array of clients are seeking help. “It’s following the trends of what we’re hearing from other Salvation Army locations,” she says, adding there has been an increased need at food banks over the past three years as well.
Keeping says they started in the area in July. She explains they have kept track of usage numbers and says there has been “a steep increase since the summer.”
“We’re seeing so many forces at play because of the pandemic,” says Keeping. She points out how the cost of almost everything is going up. “Every month it feels like it’s costing us a little bit more,” she says. “I feel that myself when I go shopping for my family.”
Evenden adds that the Huntsville food bank’s shelves have been emptied into the 275 hampers they’ve made so far, but they’re still seeing more demand.
“We are now getting close to having to have a waiting list, and to build other hampers,” says Evenden. “We were at 260 yesterday, so we think we’re going to have to go over our number, which is a little bit of a surprise to us. But we’re prepared for it, and our team will continue to create hampers.”
To support the Bracebridge radiothon, call 705-645-2218 to donate. For Huntsville, call 705-789-4461.
**Written by Mathew Reisler & Martin Halek