Frontline services are facing the axe at the Salvation Army in Richmond, unless there’s a massive influx of donations at the end of its annual Kettle Campaign.
Across Canada, the charity is way under its budget for the year, with Richmond sitting at about $40,000 shy of its target and B.C. about $1 million short.
Fears have been expressed in recent years, as donations have steadily dropped off – donations were down $17,000 in 2016.
Last year, Major Kathie Chiu, of the Richmond branch of the Salvation Army, was able to keep the damage to a bare minimum, by cutting some staff hours and doubling up on duties.
But with a few days left until Christmas, Chiu warned services such as programs, emergency assistance and camp sponsorships are in dire trouble.
“This year…will mean significant staff cuts and that means there is no one to run the programs,” Chiu told the Richmond News via email.
“However, if we can't find other ways to access funding it may also mean cuts to direct services.
“This past year we saw an increase in requests for assistance, so the demand for our services is significant.
“Of course, overhead costs are increasing all the time and we have to find creative ways to cover our property costs.”
Chiu said her branch does its best to “make use of volunteers who want to contribute services, etc., but it takes a lot of time and energy to find the resources we need.”
There's still time, however, to make some of that up.
“But the push is on,” added Chiu.
“I'm encouraged that there are quite a few names on the receipts I've never seen before - but there are also a lot of names missing that we usually see each year.
“At this point I have no explanation for that. However, times are tough, property costs are so high many are cash poor.”
Despite the grave financial situation, Chiu said the Salvation Army will still “do everything we can to continue to help people who need the assistance. It is our joy and privilege to be able to serve others.
“(We have) been serving the community since the 1940s and we will always find a way to carry on.”
As of Dec. 20, the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign has raised $15.7 million in donations nationwide, which is $5.3 million behind its $21-million national fund-raising goal to keep running its programs, which include community meals, clothing and shelter.
Beyond donating to the Salvation Army’s physical Christmas kettles, donations can be made at FilltheKettle.com, SalvationArmy.ca or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769). Also, people can call their office to donate using Debit, Visa or MasterCard at 604-277-2424.