Celebrating around the holiday season is a time of happiness and tradition with family and friends. As the holiday season approaches, often we’re focused on finding that perfect gift, making time for another get-together, and decorating the house just right. The busyness of the season means we sometimes forget that not everyone can afford that perfect gift or tree, food for a large meal, or even have a home in which to stay warm.
The Salvation Army in Ontario is committed to making the holiday season brighter for people experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, unemployment and addiction. In 2020, The Salvation Army supported more than 1.1 million families and individuals in 150 communities in Ontario by helping them find a hopeful path back to self-sufficiency.
Due to a range of social and economic factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of families and individuals reaching out for support in overcoming their personal life struggles is unfortunately increasing.
The Salvation Army’s iconic Christmas Kettle campaign is our single largest yearly fundraiser, with a goal of $12 million this year, making it incredibly important for those accessing vital and lifesaving programs and services.
A FOUNDATION OF HOPE
The Journey to Life Centre in Thunder Bay recently recognized its official grand opening, an opportunity for expanded support programs and shelter beds for the most vulnerable members of the northern Ontario community.
“This building is built upon a foundation of hope, with every brick representing a change in individual’s lives,” says Journey to Life Executive Director Gary Ferguson. “The walls are built with trust and the roof helps us to shelter those who enter from the elements, as well as the negative influences that rain down from the outside.”
Richard Andruchow is one of those who received shelter from the outside when he entered the Windsor Centre of Hope following a fire in his apartment building. Richard regained his self-worth from spiritual care, housing, community and family services, counselling and emergency shelter programs.
“I was helped from the moment I stepped into the facility, and I will always be grateful for all the support because it helped me to move forward.”
Donations to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign give hope to individuals like Richard and many more struggling. As you see The Christmas Kettles across your community, remember all donated funds remain local and go towards the needs of your community’s most vulnerable.
Receiving help and hope from The Salvation Army can be a multi-pronged, long-lasting approach for many—a social enterprise that benefits many people in the community.
FINDING A WAY BACK
Gateway Linens and Disposal Services in Toronto is a commercial industrial laundry, and employment retaining program staffed by Salvation Army clients, many of them shelter residents, who clean and fold linens, towels and blankets for shelters in the area.
Providing clean sheets and blankets gives shelter residents some comfort and normalcy in their lives. Leif Michaels is one of the Gateway Linens and Disposal Services team members, following his four years of homelessness and unemployment.
“The challenges of homelessness are food, shelter and safety because you never know when you are laying outside what is going to happen. Another challenge is coming back into what is classified as normal society,” Leif says.
Because of the hope The Salvation Army provided him, he knows that no matter what happens in life, he always has a place where he is loved and supported and can come back as needed.
“It’s about providing opportunity. People are so capable, and they have so much to offer, and yet they are trapped in their circumstances of homelessness. It’s trying to support them so they can break down those barriers that are holding them trapped,” says Stewart King, Manager of Gateway Linens and Disposable Services.
PROVIDING HELP AT HOME
At Salvation Army Thrift Stores in smaller communities across the province, the need for assistance is just as common but no less important. At the combined Thrift Store and Food Bank in Ingersoll, there is a genuine connection between the two services, and one would not exist without the other.
“A lot of people don’t realize that buying a shirt in our store is actually helping people. Yes, they are getting a good deal but that money supports having a food bank in this town that help individuals and families who are struggling to put food on their table,” says Kelly Bula, a community care clerk at the store.
“We are able to give people hope by cutting down the cost they are spending on food, and in turn, they can afford accommodations, healthcare or other essential personal items.”
Mara Hennesey discovered her positive life direction through participation in the Trades Start Program offered by Wiarton Community Church. The program helps students like Mara to learn a trade while earning credits toward a high school diploma.
Mara was so successful in completing a college-level foodservice worker program that she was recently hired to work at The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Wiarton.
“The Trades Start Program helped me feel confident and I am very thankful for the opportunity with The Salvation Army,” she says.
These are just a handful of the thousands of individuals who receive help every month because of your generous donations during our Christmas Kettle Campaign. Donations remain local to help clients stay in their hometown to receive help, hope and confidence in life.
As demand for assistance increases across all facets of life, The Salvation Army’s programs and services are as important as they have ever been – for the community, for clients, and for society. Join our Army of Givers and give hope today.
To learn more, visit SalvationArmy.ca or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
The Salvation Army is an organization that gives hope and support to vulnerable people in 400 communities across Canada and in 132 countries.