There are so many ways to help your fellow man, but a new fundraiser for the Salvation Army is one of the most fun.
The Santa Shuffle and Elf Walk arrived in Chilliwack last year and got off to a boisterous start. This year’s event promises to even better, says Tim Bohr, Community Ministries Director for The Salvation Army Care & Share Centre in Chilliwack.
“We had a pretty good event for year one,” he says. “It was our first crack at it, and we’re doing it a little better this year.”
The event is to be held on Dec. 2, and is one of 41 similar fundraising events taking place all over the country. It includes a family-oriented 5K and 1K race, and will be held in partnership with the Running Room. The Santa Shuffle began 27 years ago in Alberta. It became national in 2001, and last year, more than 16,000 participants raised about $640,000 for their local Salvation Army.
What sets it apart from other runs is the suggested running wear. Participants are encouraged to come in their North Pole finest, whether it’s a full Santa or Mrs. Claus suit, Christmas sweaters, or elf wear.
“It’s a great family event,” says Bohr. “People can dress up in their holiday festive costumes. We even had a Santa last year, although he didn’t run.”
Everyone gets a medal, not just for running the event but for helping out the Salvation Army just before Christmas, the community’s greatest time of need.
“It’s just as cool even, to both highlight the need but also to do something about it,” Bohr says. To participate, runners and walkers pay a registration fee based on their age. Children pay $20, individuals pay $30, families pay $90 and corporate groups of 10 people pay $225.
Runners who raise $50 or more receive a T-shirt, and those who raise $100 or more get a free shirt and a Running Room gift card.
Bohr says the run doesn’t replace the popular Christmas Kettle campaign.
“The need is always there, but this year the need has gone significantly up. This is now impacting seniors, it’s impacting families,” he says. “There is a new demographic that are finding themselves (homeless) or just on the brink.”
The Salvation Army also has seen an increase in the “working poor,” and provides both monthly hampers and Christmas hampers to those in need. People often have to choose between rent and food, but they’re there to help.
“Pay your rent,” Bohr says. “Come to us for food.”
To sign up for the Santa Shuffle, visit www.santashuffle.ca.