Eighty-year-old Margo Brett has a special motivation for donning her Salvation Army uniform and taking up a post beside Christmas Kettles this time of year.
“I was a child in Holland during the Second World War when we didn’t have enough to eat,” she says. “I know firsthand what it’s like to go to bed hungry and cold.
“I really feel I have a heart for people who don’t have enough food. There were times all we had to eat were sugar beets.”
Margo and her 89-year-old husband, Ron, are part of a team of volunteers who will be out collecting donations when the local Salvation Army launches its annual Kettle Campaign this week.
Their hope is to raise at least $120,000 for the Salvation Army’s foodbank and services for financially strapped families.
The Bretts have pitched in for the past 10 years, taking countless two-hour shifts in the weeks leading up to Dec. 24. They intend to keep at it as long as their health holds up.
“We always ask to be at Lambton Mall,” says Margo. “We’re both still doing well but it’s nice to be indoors.”
Last year, the local Kettle Campaign surpassed its goal, bringing in $126,593 to help the 600 to 800 people who access the Salvation Army’s foodbank and family services each month. The Salvation Army spends about $7,500 monthly to stock its food bank.
Other money is designated to help families with utilities, dental care and emergency needs. Every penny donated to the Kettle Campaign stays in the community.
“We still need more volunteers like Margo and Ron this year,” says Erin Pollard, this year’s Christmas Kettle Campaign co-ordinator. Anyone who can help with some two-hour shifts is urged to call Erin at 226-349-5944.
Families are encouraged to get involved too.
Margo Brett says she frequently meets donors who say that the Salvation Army helped them out as children and want to give back.
“I hear lots of stories,” she said. “People remember the Salvation Army coming to their houses in Sarnia at Christmas time during the war with coffee and socks.”
Others have been helped recently as utility bills climb and the cost of living surpasses many family incomes.
“The time goes by so fast when Ron and I collect money,” says Margo. “People come with their children and say they want to teach them about giving. People are truly wonderful in this community.”
Salvation Army Christmas Kettles are located in Sarnia at Walmart, Superstore, Lambton Mall, Giant Tiger on London Road and Canadian Tire, as well as in Corunna at No Frills and Foodland.
They’ll also be staffed at the Quinn Drive and Lakeshore LCBO locations on Fridays and Saturdays throughout December.