Salvation Army optimistic about 2018


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Photos by Eoin Devereux
Neepawa and Area Salvation Army manager Amanda Naughton-Gale has a mountain of donations to sort through. Naughton-Gale and her staff at the Thrift Store are constantly restocking the shelves with donated housewares and clothing.

Eoin Devereux
Neepawa Banner & Press

2017 could be defined as a significant year of change for the Neepawa and Area Salvation Army, but in a good way. Not only has the charitable organization’s thrift store successfully settled into its new location, within the former Co-op building on Mountain Avenue; but the group has also seen support for their ongoing programs continue to expand. 

Manager Amanda Naughton-Gale said one of the best examples of this was seen in the annual Kettle Campaign, their primary fundraiser during the Christmas season.

“The volunteers came through, as they always do for us. We were struggling a little bit at the end, but we did manage to cover off all of our scheduled times and locations, so that was great,” said Naughton-Gale. “Iris Lagria was our kettle coordinator this year and it was her first year in that position. She did a phenomenal job organizing everyone, pulling in different people to work the campaign and ensuring that it proceeded as smoothly as it did.”

The official donation numbers from the Kettle Campaign are still being tabulated and will be announced to the public in the near future. Naughton-Gale is optimistic, however, that the final results will be some of the best in recent memory.

“A major factor [in the potential increase] can be attributed to the CP Rail Holiday Train. We think that definitely added to our numbers, compared to prior years. We were a bit fearful that the Holiday Train may take away from the rest of the campaign, but what it looks like is that it brought in money that we weren’t accessing, or that those were people who were not donating on a regular basis to us,” noted Naughton-Gale. 

“A special event like [the Holiday Train] definitely boosted the numbers, so we’re fairly confident this could be one of our best years ever.”

Another project that kept everyone busy in December was the annual Christmas Hamper program, which distributes food and gift donations to families that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Naughton-Gale said the number of people participating is increasing.

“So we assisted 109 families here in Neepawa alone and, I believe it was an additional 31 in the Gladstone/Plumas area. That was definitely an increase over what we’ve seen over the last couple of years actually. Of the 109 in Neepawa, 22 of those were actually adopted families, (where the hampers are prepared by individuals or companies separate from the Salvation Army), so we ended up packing 87 hampers in the end. Last year, we hadn’t even hit the 100 mark with even the adopted families, so it’s quite an increase there,” stated Naughton-Gale. “And this year, we saw a real range of folks and a lot of people that we haven’t seen before. But at the same time, there were families we’ve seen in the past who weren’t on the list this year, so that’s encouraging to know that some of those conditions have changed. It ebb and flows every year.”

Looking forward towards the new year, Naughton-Gale stated that the Salvation Army is hopeful that they’ll be able to maintain the momentum they gained in 2017.

“There’s a bit of optimism, but also that bit of the unknown. We’re now two months into the new building. We’re finally starting to get settled in and accustomed to the space. We’re seeing just what the cost of operation is going to be here now, compared to our old location. The cost for overhead, utilities and things like that, this will definitely be one of those interesting years, where we’ll try out some things. Program wise, we’re doing some strategic planning in the new year. Formulating some plans to guide us into the future and help us to continue to serve the community as best we can.”

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While the shelves are currently stocked at the Neepawa Salavation Army Food Bank, as the year progresses, the need for donations from the community will grow.