“We’ve been doing Christmas hampers for decades in Kelowna, but the team wanted to avoid the stigma attached to the word ‘client,’ ” says Captain Darryl. “They are our guests.”
The team came up with a campaign that allows them to come alongside their friends and neighbours. They called it Sharing Christmas.
“The aim was to change people’s perceptions,” Captain Darryl explains. “So we rechristened the hampers program Christmas Blessings.”
The Kelowna Army moved away from physical hampers to respond to those families with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Instead, they provided families with gift cards redeemable at local grocery stores, so they can get the food they need.
Other tweaks included creating a “toy depot” so parents can choose the gifts for their children. More than 600 families were helped in this fashion, and this over a period of weeks to eliminate lineups.
“Our recipients are absolutely blown away by the generosity of the community,” says Captain Darryl.
Not only is the Army able to provide one-on-one support but they’re able to offer spiritual care as well.
“We have people from every walk of life,” says Captain Darryl. “When a volunteer sits down and says, ‘Is there anyone you would like us to pray for? Is there anything we can do?’ 95 percent ask for prayer. It’s absolutely beautiful.”