Bells ring out for kettle drive

Businesses and groups are encouraged to volunteer at a Salvation Army Christmas Kettle and match all donations raised during the day.

Realtor team (from left) Deborah Williamson

Realtor team (from left) Deborah Williamson

As Sabrina vandenBrink and her daughters eagerly dropped money into the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle outside of Canadian Tire on Nov. 24, she had an idea.

Why not volunteer her realty team to run a Christmas Kettle, and match all the money that they collect?

She called her friend Tracy Goyak, the Salvation Army Major, to tell her about this “kettle epiphany,” and they quickly worked out the details.

“I think it’s amazing when people volunteer to do this,” said Goyak. “It boosts the energy and Christmas spirit in the community, and it’s a wonderful fundraising opportunity.”

On the chilly, sunny Dec. 2 afternoon, vandenBrink and her colleagues Kellee Romaine, Joanne Smith, and Deborah Williamson stood out front of the Garrison Crossing Save-On Foods to ring the kettle and wish passersby a Merry Christmas.

Though the team has given back to the community through several avenues in the past, none of the women had volunteered for a Christmas Kettle before.

But their experience was outstanding.

“It was amazing,” said Romaine, who brought her grandchildren to take part in the fun.

“What a great feeling,” Williamson enthused. She recounted her own family tradition of donating to the Christmas Kettles, even in hard times. Her and six siblings used the food bank regularly growing up, so it was a particularly touching experience for her.

Smith was excited to be able to help out the Salvation Army. She utilized their affordable day care services on numerous occasions when starting out as a young business woman.

Everyone who passed by these four enthusiastic women in blue seemed to be enchanted by the magic – and the complimentary candy canes.

Strangers and clients alike gave generously, many even made an extra trip to the ATM or their car to come up with some cash.

During their four hours at the kettle, the team raised $339 for the Salvation Army. They matched the total contributions for the day, bringing the total to $678.

“We have been so blessed by this community as a business,” vandenBrink explained. “We just feel this was a good fit for us to give back.”

Will they do it again?

Absolutely.

The team will once again collect kettle donations on Dec. 17 from 2 to 6 p.m at the Garrison Crossing Save-On Foods, and are willing to match up to $5,000.

They plan to make this an annual tradition, and they encourage other small businesses to spend an afternoon at the kettle as well.

All kettle donations support the ongoing needs of the Chilliwack Salvation Army programs, including the food bank, family services, soup kitchen, emergency shelter, housing assistance and more.

“So [volunteering] provides a great incentive for our local businesses to support their own community,” Goyak said.

And the matching initiative means that every dollar raised goes twice as far.

The kettle campaign started on Nov. 21 and runs until Dec. 24. Those interested in volunteering for the Christmas Kettles can call Rick at 604-378-0227.