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Fort Frances Mayor Andrew Hallikas makes a donation to kick off the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign in Fort Frances. Auxiliary-Captain Arthur Heathcote stands at the watch, November 14, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms

Kettle Campaign underway to address increased demand

By Randy Thoms Nov 21, 2023 | 5:54 PM

The Salvation Army in Fort Frances is bracing for higher demand for its services this year.

It has already seen an increase in hamper requests over the last year.

Auxiliary-Captain Arthur Heathcote says people are feeling the financial crunch.

“So far, to the end of September, we had serviced 208 households. Of those, 60 of them are new families, and 20 of those new families represented seniors. These are people between the ages of 45 and 60 who are working, just trying to make ends meet,” says Heathcote.

They’re just feeling the financial pinch on their dollar and looking to us for some help, for some relief to get them through,” he adds.

He estimates more than 53,000 pounds of food will have been received and handed out at its food bank this year.

The agency already has requests to fill over 260 food hampers this holiday season.

It provided 220 last season.

The agency is looking to the community to help fill the need.

It kicked off its Christmas Kettle campaign last week and will run through December 23.

Heathcote says every penny helps take the pressure off families struggling to make ends meet.

“It all stays within the district. None of it leaves here. It’s all used for the families here in Fort Frances, Emo, Rainy River and Atikokan,” says Heathcote.

“None of the funds from the kettles go into any of our operations, heating, lighting, that type of thing. All of it goes directly into the food bank, into making sure we have enough for those supplies,” says Heathcote.

As in previous years, the kettle has a tap feature for supporters wanting to use their debit cards to donate.

There will be people helping to ring the bells.

Heathcote says they always look for volunteers.

“We’re starting off slow, as we usually do every year, and it looks as though with it being warm outside, it’s going to slow that trend down. But once people hear that we’re up and running, those who aren’t able to give financially find the time to give,” says Heathcote.

Heathcote says all they ask is that the bell ringers provide a minimum of two hours of their time.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas made one of the first donations to kick off the campaign.

He hopes others can support the Salvation Army in any way they can.

“I’m so proud of our community because it’s such a giving, generous community,” says Hallikas. “What I’m asking now is, please dig deep and contribute to the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign so we can assure all of our residents have a good Christmas. I know that some people can’t afford to give much, but you can donate your time so you could come down, and you could ring the bells for a while.”

The kettles are at Walmart, Safeway and The Place.

To volunteer, contact the Salvation Army’s Scott Street office at 807-291-0012 or email fort.frances@salvationarmy.ca.