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Christmas Kettle nets $17 m in 2016

Salvation Army needs more this year

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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THE Salvation Army raised $17 million last December as part of its Christmas Kettle drive to assist the less fortunate, but this year they need more.

That is because the money collected automatically goes back out in the form of care packages, treats and the cost to run some of its facilities, Major Oral Morris, the Salvation Army's divisional commander for eastern Jamaica, and Public Relations Officer Captain Oliver Michels, said at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue offices.

“The money that we raise at Christmastime, about a third of that goes to raising money. So we have to pay people to stay [with kettles], although some people volunteer, but not everybody volunteers... We have to pay for gasoline to drive out and collect those kettles and bring them in. So, yes, about a third goes into raising the money,” Captain Michels said.

The Christmas Kettle is the Salvation Army's most famous street campaign. It is most recognised during the Christmas season through its volunteers who stand outside business places and play or sing Christmas carols, or ring bells to inspire passers-by to place donations of cash and checks inside the trademark red kettles.

Michels also explained that about a third of the money goes to the projects — treats and meals — the charitable organisation undertakes during the Christmas season, but was sure to point out that partners such as Food For the Poor, among others, assist with these as well.

“The other third of that goes to our single largest fund-raiser for the year, where eastern Jamaica will raise $3.5 to $4 million for the year and the rest of Jamaica, they will raise [money] shy of $1 million. So this Christmas season, yes, you [will] see us out in force and you see us asking. It's to help with our Christmas work and it's also to help the ongoing work of the Salvation Army. So that's the kind of numbers we're talking about,” Michels said, adding that in 2016 both eastern and western Jamaica made approximately $17.7 million.

Jamaicans are very generous at this time of the year, he said.

“What he has not said is what we do during the other periods. This year, for instance, we have visited 21 homes and institutions, and we have given out over 2,729 care packages. We still have three others where we're going to give out another 413 care packages. So it comes in, but it goes out,” Major Morris mentioned.

Added to that, the men said that while a monthly grant of $731,142.85 is provided by the Government, a lot more exists outside of that in terms of assistance to be given.

It costs the organisation $7,050 per day for 30 children for transport and lunch for school.

“That does not include the staff that we have, which is 24 hours a day, that we pay and provide for their meals because they live there (the Nest Children's Home). The same goes for the other two homes in Mandeville, Manchester,” Major Morris said.

International assistance is also rendered to the organisation's Jamaica branch, the Observer was told. “Our water bill ran into $1 million the other day because we had underground leaks. We had to change the entire system and the funds for that were provided from overseas,” he disclosed as an example.

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