The Salvation Army has set a target of $20 million for its annual Christmas Kettle Drive but says it is experiencing a shortage of suitable persons to man the collection pots.
Most of the ‘kettlers’ – the persons in charge of familiar red collection pots at locations in town centres across the island – are elderly and are unwilling to volunteer as much since the pandemic, according to Major Nana Boakye-Agyemang, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army’s Eastern Jamaica Division.
“Some of the persons we have are quite elderly, and since COVID, they are not willing to go out there as they used to”, Major Boakye-Agyemang told Loop News.
He said there are kettles at approximately 110 locations, primarily in the eastern part of Jamaica, mostly at supermarkets, financial institutions and quick service restaurants. However, with only about 80 workers, some locations are not attended to.
Some 50 of the kettles are in Kingston alone. The Major said he would appreciate the help of service clubs to assist in manning the kettles.
Describing the shortage of kettlers as a big challenge, Major Boakye-Agyemang says there are still ways in which persons can contribute electronically to the charity.
“In my opinion, the ways in which the new generation contributes to the needy are much different than in the past when people were more willing to make personal sacrifices to help others. The younger generation will more easily transfer a couple of dollars from their phones than go out there and solicit”, he said.
However, he noted that direct bank transfers to the charity are welcome, with the world going cashless.
He said most of the money raised during the drive will go towards special Christmas hampers for the vulnerable and less fortunate, as well as to three residential children’s homes and the School for the Blind run by the Salvation Army.
“Our target is $20 million this year because of the increased need across our various programmes. As the tradition of the Salvation Army and our partners, we aim to provide 10,000 special Christmas hampers for those most in need to bring joy to the less fortunate at Christmas time”, Major Boakye-Agyemang said.
The three children’s homes are Hanbury and Windsor Lodge, both in Manchester, and NEST in Kingston.
“At the children’s homes we support more than a hundred children who are wards of the state. We provide a place where they can be safe, nurtured and integrated into society in the future. Through this programme some have gone on to acquire tertiary level education, which gives us the motivation to continue this work”, Major said.
He said there was also a campaign seeking support to acquire Braille machines for the School for the Blind that is needed for the students’ educational pursuits.
Major Boakye-Agyemang urged Jamaicans to give generously to the cause, stating: “Whatever gift we give is a reflection of the caring and generosity of the Jamaican people by virtue of their trust in us”.
Founded in England in 1865, the Salvation Army is a Christian church and an international charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of 1.7 million.
Major Boakye-Agyemang revealed there are about 3,000 members in Jamaica in 60 churches. The Caribbean territory headquarters of the Salvation Army is in Jamaica.
In addition to putting cash in the kettle pots, persons can make direct transfers to the Salvation Army at the following accounts:
● Scotiabank, The Scotia Centre, Downtown A/C #50765-802629
● CIBC First Caribbean Bank, King Street A/C #28503311
Cheques can be made payable to The Salvation Army EJD or donations can be mailed to: The Salvation Army, 3 Waterloo Road, Kingston 10 or The Salvation Army, 174 Orange Street, PO Box 153, Kingston.