Generosity of northerners comes through in annual Christmas kettle campaign

The annual Salvation Army Christmas campaign raised 95 per cent of its $44,000 goal as of Dec. 23.

Online donations accepted until Dec. 31

Despite the hardships experienced by many during the global pandemic, Salvation Army Yellowknife's annual Christmas kettle campaign was successful this year. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Despite the hardships experienced by many during the global pandemic, the Salvation Army Yellowknife said the generosity of northerners has come through once again.

Reaching 95 per cent of the $44,000 goal by Dec. 23, executive director Jason Brinson said the organization was still able to meet all toy and food needs this year thanks to staff, donors and volunteers.

"We believe the donations are bringing joy to people and bringing hope to people in the territories," Brinson said.

"We know that people have struggled with COVID-19. We know that people have struggled with job loss, with other events in their life that have impacted them. So we believe that the services that we've been able to provide because of those who continue to support us, that we've been able to meet those needs of people in our communities."

Emergency shelter still open

Serving the territories since 1981, the local organization offers emergency food hampers, Christmas hampers, public washrooms and showers, overnight shelter and transitional housing, to name a few. 

But services started to look different as COVID-19 brought new health regulations. Non-profit organizations across Canada had to adjust to new health guidelines, including the now standard two-metre physical distancing. 

While an adjustment at the start, officials said they are happy they were able to modify operations to meet the needs in the North, including maintaining a higher capacity at the emergency shelter.

The Salvation Army emergency shelter has expanded into the church overnight to maintain almost the same capacity as it had before new public health measures were brought in at the start of the pandemic. (CBC)

Initially, the Salvation Army Yellowknife reduced overnight capacity in the emergency shelter to adhere to new health guidelines, but then decided to use the church space for additional overnight spots. 

"[We] still maintain a higher capacity than what we would normally be able to do with physical distance and other precautions that we needed to take in the regular shelter area," Brinson said, noting the shelter is only short less than 10 spaces compared to before the health regulations were imposed. 

"We're thankful we were able to come up with the compromise to be able to still provide sheltering."

Campaign continues to Dec. 31

The annual Christmas kettle campaign is a critical fundraiser for the organization. 

Although the physical campaign ended Dec. 24, officials said the online campaign is accepting donations up until the last day of 2020.

"We can accept donations over the phone, or they can still come in and drop them off during business hours. We do have altered business hours between now and the new year, but whenever we are open, people can certainly donate," Brinson said.

"I would just like to thank our donors and volunteers for their support, their ongoing support, not only this year, but in years gone by. And it just allows us to be able to continue to provide vital services to people who are in need"