Red kettle campaign ramps up in Penticton

It won’t be long before you see the Salvation Army’s red kettles appearing around the city.

Community ministry supervisor Joey Cyr of the Salvation Army poses with one of the familiar kettles the group uses for their major fundraising campaign each Christmas. But this year they are running into a shortage of volunteers to man the kettles.

Community ministry supervisor Joey Cyr of the Salvation Army poses with one of the familiar kettles the group uses for their major fundraising campaign each Christmas. But this year they are running into a shortage of volunteers to man the kettles.

It won’t be long before you see the Salvation Army’s red kettles appearing around the city.

The official launch of the annual fundraising drive is Nov. 21 from noon to 2 p.m., but organizer Hilma LaBelle said they are going to be trying something a little different to get the bells ringing.

The launch this year will be at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre, but outside in the area between Starbucks and the CIBC branch, rather than inside where it is warm.

“It could be a little cold out, but we figure, we are Canadians and what a better way to launch than outside in a Canadian winter,” said LaBelle, who added there would be lots of entertainment to keep people warm, starting with some seasonal music from the Okanagan Valley Music Makers.

“It is a group of youth and older folks, and it is an ensemble. They have a fabulous reputation for being just lovely and entertaining,” said LaBelle. “That starts at noon and just after that we will have the Zumba dancers. Joelle (Mbamy) from Sunrise Pharmacy is going to be showing us how to stay warm using Zumba.”

Dancers from Get Bent will also be performing, to keep the crowd warmed up and entertained.

“The theme is to have fun and stay warm,” said LaBelle.

Besides the entertainment, LaBelle is also planning to use social media to create a “cash mob” to fill the kettles.

“We tweet, we text, we email, we get as much of the word out as we possibly can,” she said. “We will be just trying to get as many people down there and create that cash mob atmosphere, just working really hard to get those donations that are so needed.”

The kettle campaign is one of the Salvation Army’s major fundraisers, and all the money collected stays local, helping fund their various efforts.

“The Salvation Army is well-known for the support it provides to our community,” said LaBelle. “The Salvation Army here does everything from feeding the hungry, giving shelter, providing services of care and concern in the community.”

But that doesn’t come about without volunteers to man the kettles. There will be an orientation session on Nov. 17 for kettle volunteers and LaBelle is encouraging young and old to come out and volunteer a few hours of their time.

“It is very easy to do, it doesn’t cost you anything except a couple of hours. The thing that we need to do right now is that gift of time,” said LaBelle. “The gift of a person’s time, there is no dollar value on that. It’s priceless.”

Volunteers, whether individuals or groups, can pre-register with LaBelle at  250-809-7327 or signup online at volunteerspot.com by following this link: tinyurl.com/KettlesPen.