The call of Christmas bells is a familiar sound to shoppers in Saskatoon.
Volunteer bell ringers have set up at 18 locations across the city, including malls, to collect money for the annual Salvation Army kettle campaign.
“We’re always excited to be able to provide Christmas to families in need, and our kettle campaign is a big part of being able to raise the funds to do that,” said Lt. Laurie Sauder, core officer for the Salvation Army Saskatoon Temple and Community Ministries.
While many people are still giving cash as they walk by, Sauder noted a decline in on-site donations.
“We are seeing a slight difference to date in our campaign of about $13,000 behind from last year,” she said.
“That could be attributed to our ‘plastic world’ that we have, and we really encourage people to use our online option if they’d like to use a credit card.”
She said volunteers are hopeful the money will be made up throughout the remainder of the campaign, which wraps up Dec. 23.
The fundraising goal is $300,000, money that goes to support the Salvation Army’s holiday efforts, and to community programs throughout the year.
“It pays for any toys we need to purchase to provide toys for the children. It also pays for the food so we can build hampers for those families we weren’t able to adopt,” she said, referring to the annual Adopt-a-Family program run in conjunction with 650 CKOM.
Sauder noted there are also more families in need this holiday season. She said as of Friday morning, around 4,400 families had applied to receive assistance — a 10 per cent increase from last year.
“So incredibly grateful for those who have given already, and who continue to give year after year.”
The deadline for applications is Dec. 15.
The Salvation Army is still looking for bell ringers to help, with information available online.
– With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Carr.