The Salvation Army is asking you to think of those in need this holiday season.

And there’s no shortage of fundraising campaigns headed by the Muskoka chapters. The two biggest fundraisers kick off this week with the Moose 99.5 and Moose 105.5 radiothons running in support of the charitable organization.

Moose FM/Vista Radio Cluster Manager Jenny Hodge says the stations are definitely feeling the spirit of giving this holiday season.

“You can definitely feel it in the air,” says Hodge. “Everyone from on-air, to sales to administration is getting in the mood to pitch-in and help give back to this important cause.”

And it’s not just Moose FM staff lending a hand as community members from local organizations and businesses will be volunteering their time as well.

“We are incredibly thankful for their support,” says Hodge. “They’re the ones that push this initiative forward on the street, without their help the radiothons wouldn’t be as successful as they are each year.”

Bracebridge and Gravenhurst Salvation Army Lieutenant Kam Robinson says this annual initiative plays a vital role in keeping their services running well into the New Year.

“Really we could not exist without that kind of donation to keep us going throughout the year,” says Robinson. “Certainly, in January, February, March our shelves seem very stocked from things like the food drive, but that quickly starts to dwindle as people are coming looking for food and assistance.”

Robinson says providing monetary aid for rent and hydro bills also digs deep into the Salvation Army reserves, and the money collected during the Moose FM radiothon ensures there is still money there to provide these services.

The Moose 99.5 radiothon in Bracebridge runs from Thursday to Saturday. In Huntsville, Moose 105.5 will kick off their radiothon on Friday. You can tune in to either station to find out how to make your donation to help local families in need in time for Christmas.

Annual Salvation Army Food Drives start this week

In the meantime, there are plenty of other opportunities to support these local charities.

Tonight volunteers with Muskoka Paramedic Services, Bracebridge Fire Department and Ontario Hydro are knocking on doors to collect food and monetary donations. The door-to-door food drive will start at 6pm and if you’re not home you can still leave a bag of non-perishable food donations outside your door, just make sure to leave your porch light on so volunteers know it’s there to collect.

Huntsville is following up with its own food drive on Wednesday with the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department kicking off the annual Project Porchlight Food Drive.

Organizer Mike Vadlja says he’s always amazed by the support shown by residents each year.

“Project Porchlight has been a real tradition with the members of the fire department for 30 years now, and everyone, from the Salvation Army, the volunteers and the residents who contribute, are so supportive and giving,” says Vadlja. “We are truly grateful for that generosity.”

Volunteers will be heading out starting at 6pm and will be knocking on doors or looking for donations left on porches to help fill the Salvation Army food bank stocks.

Time for Christmas Hamper registration

Back in Bracebridge, the Salvation Army is taking applications for the Christmas Hamper program.

Lieutenant Robinson says there’s plenty of items in the hamper to make sure families that need some extra help in Muskoka are able to have a very Merry Christmas.

“They get a full Christmas meal, all the fixings with a turkey or a ham, depending on the size of the family and they also get extra food and everything they need to keep going in the season,” says Robinson. “There’s also toys if there’s children involved and a shoebox for women and we have boxes for men this year.”

Registration for the hamper program runs at the Salvation Army Bracebridge Community Church on December 5th and 12th from 11am to 3pm on each of those days. You will need to bring identification to be registered.

Don’t forget the fur babies

And the focus isn’t just on families in need in Muskoka this holiday season. Carters Forever Rescue & Sanctuary is running a pet food drive to help the Salvation Army add these donations to the Christmas Hampers. You can drop off a donation at the Pet Value on Depot Drive or contact the rescue at 705-641-1521 to have a volunteer come by and pick it up.

Finally keep an eye out for Salvation Army Christmas Kettles set up at various retail stores across the district.

You find always find out more about services offered by each of the chapters by visiting their Facebook pages. Bracebridge Salvation Army can be found here, and Huntsville here.

Related stories:

South Muskoka brings the giving spirit during the Moose FM Salvation Army Radiothon

Huntsville shows up in a big way for annual Moose FM and Salvation Army radiothon