'A lot of upset people' over Summerside Salvation Army asking for income in Christmas hamper applications
'What we want to do at the end of the day is make it a pleasant experience,' says spokesperson
The Salvation Army in Summerside, P.E.I., is now asking for detailed financial information, including sources of income and expenses per month from Islanders applying for a Christmas hamper.
"That is a little concerning that people are struggling with this new application and a new process for Summerside," said Rhonda Harrington, director of public relations and development for the Maritime division of the Salvation Army.
Captains Neil and Dolores Abbott moved to Summerside to take over the leadership of the church in July she said.
"This is what worked for them in their last posting," explained Harrington.
The Maritime division of the Salvation Army has 31 units, says Harrington, and every unit manages its own Christmas hamper campaign.
"There isn't a standardized one form for all units so each unit may look a little different," said Harrington.
'A lot of upset people'
One woman who was applying for a Christmas hamper on Tuesday told CBC News there were "a lot of upset people" when applicants learned of the changes.
She said she had to go to her bank twice to get the documents the Salvation Army was asking for, including GST payments and the child tax benefit.
She said others didn't have vehicles, or printers to access online information and weren't sure how to get the paperwork they needed.
The woman said many in the lineup said they wouldn't be going back because they wouldn't be able to find all the documents required for the application.
She said while she's grateful for the support, it was upsetting to get sent away.
Her application still hasn't been accepted, and CBC News has agreed not to name her because she is worried speaking out will affect her chances of getting a hamper.
Just two registration dates, but no one turned away
The Summerside Salvation Army unit also changed the way it accepts applications, announcing that there will be just two registration dates this week, compared to in the past when people have been able to apply for a number of weeks into December.
Harrington said that has also been misunderstood.
She said the Abbotts have told her that no one will be turned away if they aren't able to apply before the Thursday deadline, and that applications will be accepted until days before Christmas.
"We don't want to see anyone going without help at Christmas that needs help," said Harrington.
Charlottetown requires proof of address, no income info
At the Salvation Army in Charlottetown, Major Daniel Daniel Roode said the unit requires something that establishes a home address from people wanting to sign up for a Christmas hamper but not proof of income or expenses.
Harrington admits the differences between the two locations may have to be reviewed.
"Where there are only two Salvation Army units [in P.E.I.], Summerside and Charlottetown, to have application processes look different likely is not ideal,"
"We may have to look at the process, review the methodology and see if this is the best way forward," she said.
"What we want to do at the end of the day is make it a pleasant experience."
Last year, the Salvation Army in Summerside handed out 500 Christmas hampers.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | Free bridge toll program coming for patients travelling for medical reasons
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | How to (legally) dump your garbage for free