The North Island is showing their festive side as communities are lighting up Christmas trees and hanging up holiday decorations to bring on the cheer, but that’s not the only thing locals are doing.
Many non-profit organizations – charities, service providers and food banks – are going the extra mile to ensure those less fortunate are well taken care of this chilling winter season. The winter cold certainly doesn’t harden the North Island’s heart as Salvation Army, Harvest Food Bank, and many others are spending countless hours collecting donations.
Salvation Army’s lighthouse centre has already raised more than $1,500 for the Christmas Kettle campaign. In the past, the local kettle campaign has typically set $13,000 as their goal. Kettles are placed in Save-On-Foods and at the Port Hardy Shopping Centre near the entrance to the BC Liquor store.
While many government agencies fund the organization, the Salvation Army does rely on donations from events such as these to make up nearly 30 per cent of their annual budget.
During Christmas time, the shelter typically sees an uprise in stays, which saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014. In fact, shelter stays hover around 2,417 in 2017, which could mean the Salvation Army is making the shelter more accessible to those who need it.
Meals have also increased over the years as well, but even more so during Christmas when families who live in poverty typically struggle to put food on the table. From 2014 meals were around 14,848 but in 2017 the meals given was 24,189.
The campaign is one of the biggest annual charitable events across Canada. The nonprofit organization has over 2,000 kettles that go toward the Salvation Army’s programs, like providing food, clothing shelter to those living in poverty.
In fact, according to their website the Salvation Army helps over 1.9 people every year across the nation, and these charitable campaigns make that possible. Typically, the donations stay in the community to directly support the town’s social service programs.
The first official Christmas Kettle campaign started 1903 in Toronto.
Another annual charity event is Cram the Cruiser. Port McNeill has now run it for four years, usually raising around a few thousand kilograms of food and a couple thousand in money which go to Harvest Food Bank’s busiest time of the year.
Harvest Food Bank provides monthly food boxes which are distributed throughout the Mount Waddington region, which is especially needed during this time of the year.
Finally, a number of Christmas bazaars were put on – Kwakiutl and Eagle View Elementary School to name a couple – to raise funds for their own organizations, but nonetheless, locals came out to support the Christmas events.