Comfort and Joy

How Salvation Army volunteers are making Christmas special for others.


Spreading Good Cheer


Kettle bell ringers are a common sight in shopping centres and stores during the Christmas season. Standing for hours on end—sometimes in inclement weather—they greet passersby with a kind word and a warm smile.

For volunteers such as Karen Haddrell, giving support to The Salvation Army is easy because they've received support in the past. In 2005, Haddrell came to The Salvation Army's Kelowna Community Church in British Columbia for Christmas help.

“After my marriage ended, my family and I struggled just to get by,” says Haddrell, a single mother of two. A friend referred her to the church's hamper program, where low-income families receive a turkey with all the fixings and toys.

“We would have had pizza or French fries for Christmas dinner and my kids would have had pretty lean gifts had it not been for The Salvation Army,” she says. “I started ringing the kettle bells in 2007 as a way to give back for all the support I received in difficult times.”

Haddrell became more involved with Kelowna's programs and began attending church services in April. “I finally decided that it was going to be an important part of my social and spiritual life to go to church,” she says. “I can really relate to the messages and how they apply to my life.”

She has also been volunteering in the church office for the past two years. “Working in the church is so positive and nurturing,” she says. “It helped me develop a sense of self-worth I hadn't had in a long time.”

This Christmas, Haddrell will be co-ordinating volunteer drivers to pick up the kettle bubbles from 20 locations daily during the campaign.

“The kettles became a gateway to serve in a variety of empowering roles. Through volunteering, I have met, and become part of, a loving church family.”


Jordan Bascome and Daelyn Glasgow-Thomas show gifts for the Santa Anonymous program Jordan Bascome and Daelyn Glasgow-Thomas show gifts for the Santa Anonymous program

Dedicated Youth


Jordan Bascome and Daelyn Glasgow-Thomas are two young people who have been assisting with The Salvation Army's Christmas distribution program in Bermuda for years.

“When I'm not focused on my schoolwork, I can be found at the National Sports Centre where I train for track and field,” says Bascome, 16. “As I've gotten older, I've seen many of my friends go through times of struggle. I thank God for my gifted life and so I don't see why I wouldn't use my health and strength to help others by volunteering my time at The Salvation Army.”

Bascome was introduced to volunteerism at the age of two when her family prepared and served Christmas lunch to the residents of the Army's emergency housing complex. In 2008, she began serving through the Santa Anonymous program. This program operates through community and family services and provides gifts to approximately 950 children annually.

“The older I got, the more I realized the significance of serving others. I'd see people on the streets and wonder about their life stories or how they got into such a state. Obtaining school volunteer hours was one thing, but getting the chance to give to people was a heartier reason why I gave my time.”

In 2010, Bascome invited her friend, Glasgow-Thomas, to volunteer with the same program. The two teens have helped every Christmas since. “I volunteer because I enjoy giving to people in need,” says Bascome. “It really puts me in the Christmas spirit, which is all about giving. Seeing the people leave with smiling faces because they are grateful for something we did for them makes me happy.”

Both Bascome and Glasgow-Thomas give up two days of their Christmas vacation to volunteer and have seen the personal and community benefit of lending a helping hand to others. Volunteerism has provided a learning opportunity that has changed them and created a desire to help others for years to come.

A Table for 200


Virgo Romano, his family and friends serve Christmas dinner at Montreal's Booth Centre Virgo Romano, his family and friends serve Christmas dinner at Montreal's Booth Centre

A caterer based in Knowlton, Que., Virgo Romano has worked for restaurants all over the world, from Canada to Kuwait to West Africa. But these days he's bringing his expertise to The Salvation Army's Booth Centre in Montreal, where he, his family and friends cook and serve dinner on Christmas Day.

Now in its fifth year, the dinner at The Salvation Army is an entrenched tradition, and the family looks forward to it every year.

“We celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve now, so we can spend Christmas Day at the Booth Centre,” he says.

Romano and his family had been talking about putting on such a dinner for a number of years before they found a home at the centre.

“I did some research on different organizations and The Salvation Army was one that stuck out,” he says.

Romano purchases and prepares the food at his business, Virgo Catering, and then brings it to the Booth Centre on Christmas morning. The meal is served in two sittings at noon, with 100 people at each sitting.

“The people love the dinner because, at the Booth Centre, they usually have a buffet, but we go out and serve it to them and talk with them,” he says. “Some of them don't have anyone on Christmas, so it's quite special for them.”

Over the past few years, Romano has been frequently touched by the gratitude of the residents.

“Some of them really go out of their way to thank us,” he says. “One time, a man who had taken the meal in his room sent us a card, which he had made by hand, before we left.”

Last year, 20 family members and friends joined Romano in serving dinner. On the day of the event, the Romanos always take a photo of all the volunteers and then use that picture to make a calendar, which is given to everyone who helped.

“We don't have any motive,” he says. “We just enjoy doing it. We're lucky we have family, friends and food on our table, and we're just giving back.”

Since his first Christmas dinner, Romano has expanded his involvement with the Army, preparing food for Easter and Booth Centre fundraisers.

“If anyone ever asks us, 'Who would you donate to?' The Salvation Army is the first thing that comes to mind,” he says. “It's a great organization.”


Warm for the Holidays


Darlene Owen (right) and Betty Stride inspect a few of the hundreds of lap blankets that will be handed out this Christmas Darlene Owen (right) and Betty Stride inspect a few of the hundreds of lap blankets that will be handed out this Christmas

Christmas for many seniors in Whitby, Ont., will be a little warmer this year, thanks to the community care ministries of Whitby Community Church, led by senior soldier Darlene Owen.

Owen has recruited more than 20 women from the corps and other local churches to knit lap blankets and shawls for people living in retirement homes and long-term care facilities in town. Her goal is to collect between 400 and 500 items.

The idea for a blanket ministry came to Owen over a year ago when she bought a blanket for her mother who was living in a home before she passed away. The blanket was a great source of comfort for her mother, and Owen saw that many people could benefit from having one.

“We gave out 50 lap blankets last Christmas to one of the nursing homes and they loved them—you should have seen the smiles on their faces,” she says. “And I thought, 'Next year I want everybody to get one.' ”

The corps has an ongoing ministry at five care homes in Whitby, where they conduct monthly services. The blankets and shawls will be given out during services in December as part of Sunshine Bags. These bags, which bear the Army crest, will also include a copy of Salvationist, a tract, Salvation Army socks and Kleenex.

“We want to show our love for them, and that Jesus loves them, too,” Owen says.

All of the wool used to create the blankets and shawls has been donated by local businesses. Owen expects the ministry to continue beyond Christmas, as many people have stepped forward and offered to continue knitting.


On Thursday, October 19, 2017, Cameron said:

Uhhhh That's my nanny betty stride


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