The Salvation Army in Simcoe has emerged as the go-to institution for charitable giving over the Christmas season in Norfolk County.
The Salvation Army met and exceeded its Christmas Kettle Campaign goal of $200,000, with total donations of more than $230,000.
“We had a record year,” said Major Richard Honcharsky, head of the congregation and social service agency on Colborne Street North.
“In 2018, we did well and surpassed our goals. This year, we did even better. It’s records for all we accomplished.”
The generous out-pouring allowed the Salvation Army to provide a Christmas to households in Norfolk that may otherwise have gone without.
The temple played host to its annual Christmas banquet for anyone in need of a hot meal Dec. 7.
As well, 570 local families registered for the Christmas hamper program. A total of 280 hampers were packed and delivered while 330 children in Norfolk received toys through the Angel Tree donations drive.
The Salvation Army has a number of heavy-hitters in its corner. Labour and management at Stelco in Nanticoke came through in late November with a donation of $17,150 in cash and 860 pounds of groceries and toys.
Meanwhile, the Simcoe Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise have a running contest to see which can be the biggest help over Christmas.
As for the Christmas hamper campaign, more than 30 individuals, congregations, organizations and businesses make a point of supporting the program.
Last but not least are the volunteers who committed time to staffing the Christmas kettles in Norfolk’s urban areas. Dozens more volunteers were needed to pack the hampers and get them to their destinations Dec. 19.
Terri Simmons, the Simcoe temple’s community and services manager, says there’s no discernible pattern to demand for Salvation Army services in Norfolk over Christmas. Individuals and families, she said, pass in and out of the system depending on their circumstances.
“I don’t see any rhyme or reason to it,” she said. “The number of new people who register is about the same as the number of those who have collected in the past but no longer register.
“What’s wonderful is to see people who’ve collected in the past now being in a position to donate. It’s important for them to give back because they know what it is like to go without.”
Simmons added, “We wouldn’t be able to do half of what we do without our volunteers.”
To that end, the Salvation Army plans a volunteer appreciation event at the Colborne Street North Temple 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.
Funds donated to the local kettle campaign are spent in Norfolk County. The cash funds planned and emergency programming throughout the year.
The funds give the Salvation Army the leeway to spend in such areas as the emergency replacement of eye glasses or acute dental care as the need arises.