The night was dark and chilly, with a frosty breeze in the air. An older man slowly approached, close to the building to stay out of the wind. His clothes were a little worn, but looked warm enough.He stood by the kettle for a moment, and I wondered if he was going to ask for spare change.Instead, he took a $50 dollar bill from his pocket and stuffed it into the kettle. He told me, “the Salvation Army helped me when I really needed it and now it’s my turn to give. Stay warm and have a Merry Christmas.” As he walked away I wished him a very Merry Christmas… and all of a sudden, my kettle duty didn’t feel quite so chilly any more.
Ask any Rotarian about their time standing by the Salvation Army Christmas kettle, and you will hear a similar story. When you are out and about shopping locally this holiday season, listen for that familiar sound of jingling sleigh bells. As sole guardians of the bright red kettle, Sooke Rotarians are once again greeting the community and accepting donations to the Salvation Army’s continued good works for those in need.
This year marks Sooke Rotary’s 20th kettle drive. Every year members share stories from the kettle, ranging from kindness shown through an unexpected hot chocolate delivery to a heartfelt thank you from someone who has been on the receiving end of the some of the Salvation Army’s many services.
Through the generosity of Sooke residents, approximately $4,300 is raised annually in support of Salvation Army projects throughout the greater Victoria area, including Sooke.
President Deb Johnston says, “This is a great opportunity for Rotarians to meet friends and neighbours in the Sooke area and share in the spirit of Christmas giving. We are pleased to help out the Salvation Army as they help out our community.”
Look for the kettle outside the government liquor store from Dec. 16 to the 24.
Sooke Rotarian Brian MacNeill shares his kettle story:
“I’m sure many of us who worked the Salvation Army Kettle have similar stories but one that I experienced, was an older lady with her daughter, I would guess the daughter was mid 50s to early 60s and as they passed me to enter the liquor store, I wished them “Good morning and Merry Christmas.” After a few minutes they came out of the liquor store with their booty and as they passed I wished them a “Have a good day” and carried on doing my bell ringing.
Several minutes later, I turned to see them coming down the walk towards me. Did they forget to purchase something? Was there a problem? No, as they came closer to me I noticed that neither were dressed in inexpensive clothing and as I was wondering why they were back, the older lady, reached into her jacket pocket and handed me two $50 dollar bills. I was blown away but said that I wanted her to put this money directly into the kettle.
I wished them again Merry Christmas and thanked them both for their generosity. For me, this made my Christmas and I get so much inner satisfaction from experiencing their generosity, even to this day, the memory lives on and propels me to volunteer my time.