Pay it forward this holiday season by helping your struggling neighbours in Ontario
The Salvation Army’s iconic Christmas Kettle Campaign is underway and your support is needed more than ever
The holiday season should be filled with joy and happiness as families exchange gifts, enjoy home-cooked meals and spend quality time together. But the reality is, many people are struggling with housing and food security, and a picture-perfect Christmas is out of reach.
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign helps support those most vulnerable year-round, giving hope to those in need. Across the Greater Toronto Area, dedicated mission partners volunteer to stand next to iconic red kettles, offering smiles, ringing bells and accepting donations from generous donors like you.
Supporting those in need
Every dollar put into a kettle ensures The Salvation Army can deliver life-changing programs that provide dignity and a permanent way out of poverty for those unable to make ends meet. Last year, The Salvation Army supported over 1.5 million individuals and families throughout Ontario.
Minimizing food shortage
Many people are struggling to put food on their tables and fill their children’s lunch boxes, as the cost of living continues to rise across the Greater Toronto Area. “We are seeing an increasing number of individuals and families coming to us for the first time for food because they’re struggling to pay for housing and other necessities,” says Captain Johnny Valencia, corps officer of The Salvation Army Scarborough Citadel.
Nearly 850 households found support through The Salvation Army Scarborough Citadel’s food bank in 2022, and 362 of which were new to the process. Supporting over 413,000 individuals and families in the GTA with food, clothing and practical assistance, as well as providing 1,260,000 meals to emergency shelters and feeding programs, requires a generous amount of funding from donors—an Army of Givers.
For Lois, a senior who relies on The Salvation Army for groceries through its mobile food program, Christmas kettle donations are critical so she has food in her refrigerator. “The Salvation Army has saved me,” she says.
Making real-world impact
The charity organization offers more than just the necessities, too—it provides a means for individuals to get back on their feet. The Salvation Army Gateway Linens in Toronto is not just an industrial laundromat, it provides employment opportunities to struggling men, giving them the means to create a normal life, one sheet at a time.
“I came to Toronto in 2014 broken. I had no clue what to do or where to go,” says Jean, contingent worker for The Salvation Army Gateway Linens. “There is a purpose for what I’m doing here; a greater sense of accomplishment and giving back to the community.” Stewart King, general manager of The Salvation Army Gateway Linens, says so many people are capable and have much to offer, yet they are trapped in their circumstance of homelessness. “It’s important that we never lose sight of the fact that it’s about people, their stories and experiences, and mostly, their potential,” says King.
Serving struggling seniors
You might assume elders enjoy their golden years relaxing without worry, but for many individuals 55 years and older, homelessness is a reality. In fact, 56 per cent of the residents at The Salvation Army Islington Seniors’ Shelter are 65-plus and the need for emergency shelter is so great that beds are consistently full.
“Homelessness knows no age. Anyone at any moment during their life can be impacted by homelessness directly or indirectly,” says Natasha Frechette, director of The Salvation Army Islington Seniors’ Shelter. “Roughly 50 per cent of our residents are experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives.” The shelter is focused on providing residents a key to a safe place they can call their own and offering support throughout their journey.
For Nigerian-born Gloria, 58, her journey to find housing is in its second year due to the ongoing affordable housing crisis in the GTA. When she finally opens the door of a home she can call her own, thanks to the support of The Salvation Army and their Army of Givers, she’ll set her sights on her own mission: “I want to give back to society; I want to help change lives.”
When you see The Salvation Army’s iconic Christmas Kettles this holiday season, join their Army of Givers by providing hope, food and warmth to so many like Lois, Jean and Gloria. To donate online, visit SalvationArmy.ca or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.