Zoe Bridger, Gleaner Intern
A crowd gathered outside the Scotia Centre in downtown Kingtson yesterday as passers-by stopped to watch the singing, dancing and colourful costumes that signalled the launch of the Salvation Army's annual Kettle Appeal.
Celebrating 125 years since the Salvation Army came to Jamaica, and 121 years since the appearance of the first kettle, the event brought together enthusiastic young performers, Scotiabank representatives and top Salvation Army figures to highlight the need for giving this Christmas time.
Often recognised as the official start to the Christmas season, the launch saw walls and pillars outside the Scotia Centre wrapped in festive red fabric and golden bows with green ivy draped over the top.
Children in the audience wore Santa hats and the Salvation Army United Band welcomed the guests with a selection of Christmas tunes.
From the singing and dancing of the Salvation Army School for the Blind to the infectious melodies of the ScotiaSingers, the event was jam-packed with feel-good performances that highlighted the importance of coming together as a community this Christmas.
Amid all the fun, however, was the Salvation Army's important message of the need for generosity not just at Christmas time, but all year round.
Speaking at the launch, Major Stanley Griffin, divisional commander, said, "The Kettle Appeal is more than just a symbol of Christmas, it is a symbol of generosity and restoration."
"It is the generosity of the Jamaican people that enables the Salvation Army to continue its good work throughout the year," Griffin added.
Gavin Goffe, chairman of the Salvation Army's Advisory Board Eastern Division, reiterated this message. "Lots of people think the Salvation Army only comes out at Christmas time - a bit like Santa!" he said.
"But it is your continued support which enables it to do so much good work throughout the year."
Praising the generosity of the Jamaican people, Griffin said, "Whenever there is a financial crisis, people respond with even more donations and support. Despite the hard times, many people have been faced with this month, they continue to make sacrifices to help those most in need."
All donations are gratefully received - from loose change dropped into the kettles while shopping, to the $1 million donated by Scotiabank. Any amount of money, large or small, will go towards providing help and supplies to hospitals, nursing homes, children's homes and people whose lives have been uprooted by Hurricane Sandy.