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Generosity ends year on high note

Salvation Army sees surge of donations to cap the season

Just as things were looking dire for the Salvation Army in terms of holiday fundraising, a late season burst of generosity has put it in a better position to help those in need in the New Year.

By mid-December things were not looking good for the Christian organization that provides food and help to people living in poverty throughout the year. Approaching Christmas, local Salvation Army Captain Rick Robins said donations were about $30,000 short of the predicted level, which was already down from the year before.

Just when things were looking grim, the community stepped up and made a considerable amount of donations toward the end of December, enough to not only make up the shortfall but put the organization about $10,000 ahead of where Robins expected them to be.

“It was amazing,” said Robins. “We had record income from mail-ins and from the kettles. Fantastic. The community opened up.”

Robins said he believes some of the turnaround is due in part to a message Powell River resident David “Liza” Holden published in the Peak classifieds. In the message, Holden told a story of how the Salvation Army had helped him get on his feet when he was 15 years old in Winnipeg. Robins said he heard many comments about the ad and believed it inspired people to step up.

Despite the much appreciated generosity, Robins said this does not mean they are in an easy position. The budget had already been adjusted to reflect the trend of declining donations and need has been steadily rising in recent years, including a 30 per cent increase from 2010 to 2011. Robins predicts even more need this year, based upon trends.

“It helps a little bit in being able to plan what we can do for next year, what we’re able to do,” said Robins. “It helps us to be able to say yes more often than no.”

Robins said life around the Salvation Army headquarters on Joyce Avenue has slowed down now that the holidays are over. On one day leading up to Christmas Robins took count and had more than 100 phone calls in a single day. While the hustle of the holiday season is over, however, the organization and its volunteers continue to provide services to those in need in the community.

“We do what we do for the community,” said Robins, “so when the community gets behind us and shows their support it really makes us here at the Salvation Army, all our volunteers and everything, feel that what we’re doing has a purpose.”

Canadians donated over $20 million to the Salvation Army nationally in 2011, a record-breaking amount. The organization helps more than 1.7 million people each year throughout the country.