UPDATED: It's that time again! - Christmas Kettle drive launched downtown
There was some surprise yesterday as none other than Mary and Joseph appeared at the Scotiabank Centre in downtown Kingston to give their donations at the launch of the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle drive. Hundreds, who had turned out and had been earlier entertained with Christmas carols, watched as Mary joined Wayne Powell, Scotiabank's vice-president of retail delivery, to drop a contribution into the specially decorated Christmas Kettle.
The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign runs straight through the season until Christmas Eve, with cheerful, bell-ringing volunteers soliciting donations across the island. The theme of this year's activities is 'Give And Light Up A Life'. Scotiabank started the drive with a donation of $1 million, followed by Kevin Hendrickson, who presented $500,000 on behalf of the National Baking Company.
"We are hoping to make over $14 million this year," said Darrell Wilkinson, divisional commander for the eastern division of the Salvation Army. "Last year, we fell below the target and brought in just over $12 million". According to Wilkinson, the greater the support, the more persons the Salvation Army is able to assist. "When we help persons, it changes their perspective and makes life more meaningful," he said. He encouraged Jamaicans to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate individuals by contributing to the kettles when they see them.
The money collected in the red kettles will go primarily towards supporting the Salvation Army's Christmas programmes. Packages, including rice, sugar, flour, cornmeal, corned beef, biscuits, coconut oil, and others for house care and hygiene, are distributed across the island. The Salvation Army will also take the time to bring cheer to a number of institutions, including hospitals, children's homes and prisons.
A number of outstanding school and corporate choirs were on hand to officially launch the drive yesterday, singing a range of well-known Christmas songs.
Scotiabank has been assisting the Salvation Army financially and otherwise since 2001. Most recently, the bank helped to raise awareness and funds towards assisting those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The bank contributed CAD$50,000 towards the cause and established an account that to date has amassed $2.5 million from the public.
*NOTE: Previously, this story had said Gary Hendrickson presented $500,000 on behalf of the National Baking Company. That was incorrect. It should have been Kevin Hendickson.