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Kettle campaign keeps the soup pot boiling

Bob Provost, 82, has been volunteering with the Chilliwack Salvation Army
Bob Provost, 82, has been volunteering with the Chilliwack Salvation Army's annual Christmas kettle campaign for 10 years.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

The highly recognizable Salvation Army kettles will start showing up around Chilliwack starting this Saturday.

The seasonal kettle drive runs Nov. 24 until Christmas Eve.

“It’s our main fundraiser,” said Ian Pratt, community ministries director for Chilliwack Salvation Army.

Bob Provost is one of the kettle volunteers, and he’s been helping to fill the containers for about a decade. Provost has been involved with the kettle campaign for at least 10 of his 12 years volunteering for Sally Ann.

“If we didn’t have these people to step forward, our programs would not exist,” said Pratt. “They’re a vital part of what we do.”

The efforts of volunteers fill the kettles, which fund all the main programs of the Salvation Army, from the Christmas hampers to the soup kitchen, emergency shelter and thrift store.

The kettle first appeared on the streets of San Francisco, California in the early 1890s, according to the Salvation Army website. Brainchild of Joseph McFee, the kettles were used to raise funds for a shelter in the waterfront district. Captain McFee suspended a large cooking pot from a tripod and placed a sign above it that read: “Keep the pot boiling.”

They’re still actively looking for kettle volunteers in Chilliwack for this season to ring the bells and solicit donations.

“Every year it’s harder and harder to find people to man the kettles,” said Pratt. “That could be due to people feeling like they have busier lives, together with an aging population. We could use a few more.”

It takes dozens of volunteers to brave the elements and the “no thank-yous.”

To volunteer, Call the Salvation Army Care and Share, at (604) 792 0001 which is at 45746 Yale Rd Chilliwack.

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