Salvation Army dealing with rising demand

Peace River Salvation Army facilitators Sandra Laforest, left, and Margaret Davie stand in front of the supplies currently in food bank storage. They say any assistance will help members of the community who are in dire need of basic necessities.

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Peace River Salvation Army is gearing up for the Christmas season and requires your help on many fronts.
The organization has multiple fundraising missions to help, all which facilitators Sandra Laforest and Margaret Davie say are seeing increased demand from people needing assistance in the region.
Starting off at Christmas time is the Kettle Fundraiser, running from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23.
“It is the Army’s main fundraiser,” says Davie.
“Whatever we get donated in the kettle stays in the community to help us supply food and services to our residents.”
The ladies remind residents that on Dec. 17 Walmart will match all donations given in the kettle.
“We can’t run any of our programs without volunteers,” says Laforest.
“It has been a challenge to get people to ring the bells, to smile and say Merry Christmas. If people are willing, we would appreciate any help they will give,” she adds.
The local chapter helps people in Peace River and surrounding areas. Any donations to their chapter will stay in the community.
Toys for Tots is also well under way, with collections starting with the Fill the Bus campaign, an initiative held by Salvation Army and its fundraiser partners Mighty Peace GMC and 94.9 FM radio station.
“Toy donations are down this year,” says Laforest. “Every age group is limited.”
At this stage of fundraising Salvation Army still requires donations for every age group. They indicate that teenage gifts are always in short supply. Their hope is they will be able to provide each child with their own package of gifts.
“We already have over 100 families registered, so we’re estimating over 600 kids will need presents,” says Davie.
The Army is also organizing its annual Christmas Hamper, which is a food donation program.
“We have 116 families registered so far,” says Laforest.
“We’re hoping we can get some more business sponsors to help with the program. It’s $80 to provide a family with a Christmas Hamper, one hamper provides Christmas supper for a family of four adults,” she adds.
Davie explains that Freson IGA is helping create the hampers for the family. Each hamper will provide pre-cooked meals ready to warm up and serve. Each hamper will include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, two vegetables, rolls, a box of oranges and a pie.
Lastly, the food bank is also continuously looking for donation of food, hygiene products and pet supplies.
Laforest says local schools ran a campaign to help fill the food bank, collecting enough food to help people until the end of January. Although donations were extensive, there is a constant increase to the number of people needing assistance from the food bank. Local businesses help frequently to fill needs in the food bank, but assistance is always required from anyone who can help.
“Walmart gives twice each week, and No Frills will be starting in the New Year,” says Laforest.
“Freson Brothers also donates day old bread every Monday.”
Shortages in the food bank include Pampers sizes five and six, and men’s hygiene supplies including body wash and shampoo. Cereal, crackers, and school snacks are also in high demand.
Laforest says in one week between 20 and 40 food hampers are given out, and the community’s need is constantly increasing. She says each week at least two new registrations come into the local chapter for assistance.

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