You know Christmas is around the corner when the familiar Salvation Army kettles start to appear in malls and on street corners.
I find them welcome reminders of the true meaning of Christmas. To me, they are comforting somehow — a symbol of hope, of lending a helping hand to those less fortunate.
These thoughts crossed my mind as I stuffed my donation into the red kettle, and I thanked the Sally Ann officer ringing the bell.
Funny thing is, I only realized just how many good works this organization performs when my mom volunteered for them a few years ago.
Up till then, I thought they were well-meaning folks who liked to dress up in military uniforms, play in marching bands and sell used clothing. Boy was I wrong.
I’ve since learned that they operate homeless shelters, addiction rehab centres, and other support programs for vulnerable children and families in 400 communities across Canada and in 115 countries around the world.
One thing I learned today is that, since 1882, The Salvation Army has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in Canada. Impressive stuff. Here are a couple of interesting new projects they’re running this winter.
Sally Ann kettles go high-tech
Have you heard about the Salvation Army iKettles? I hadn’t until today.
They allow donors to host their own online kettle and invite others via e-mail to give to The Salvation Army. How cool is that?
15 Below Project
Another amazing initiative of The Salvation Army is the 15 Below Project, which launches on November 22, 2008.
In Canada, more than 80 people die each year from over-exposure to the cold. To help prevent such deaths, The Salvation Army and Taxi Canada, a national advertising firm, have developed special coats designed to protect the homeless from the risks of frostbite and hypothermia this winter.
The 15 Below jacket features multiple pockets throughout the lining where newsprint, one of the most effective insulators, can be simply scrunched and stuffed into. When not being worn, the jacket can be folded into a backpack for easy transportation or used as a pillow.
Taxi Canada has donated 3,000 coats to The Salvation Army and they will distribute the coats in four major cities across Canada. This jacket could save lives.
In the spirit of celebrating the work of The Salvation Army, here’s a video clip of a Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls, starring Nathan Lane. Enjoy!