The sound of a small bell ringing might be the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions The Salvation Army. It is a bell that symbolizes the Army’s most well-known fundraiser, the Christmas kettle campaign.
Each year the kettle campaign raises millions of dollars across Canada and Bermuda with the help of dedicated volunteers. While kettle volunteers are diverse, the campaign does tend to serve as a start-up for youth volunteers that are eager to contribute to the cause. For this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 16-22), the Army is honouring its youth volunteers, who are a key part to keeping the kettle campaign thriving for years to come.
Kenza Johansson, 13, has always wanted to help her community. Coming from a family that donates to the Army’s cause each year, she naturally wanted to find a way to give back to her community and decided to volunteer at a kettle for the first time in 2022. Together with her good friend, Charlie, they raised money for families in need, had a fun time doing so, and built new friendships.
“We had a fun time because we wouldn’t normally all hang out together.” KENZA JOHANSSON
“There were a few times that we did kettle shifts with our brothers. It was me, Charlie and Elliot, her brother, and my brother, Diedrick. We had a fun time because we wouldn’t normally all hang out together, but we built a good relationship there,” Kenza says.
Kenza and Charlie’s families coming together is what the Army is all about—communities working together to help those in need. Kenza plans to continue volunteering for the kettle campaign for years to come, and maybe even get involved in other Salvation Army programs in the future.
While last year was the first time Kenza volunteered, for others, it is already a tradition even at a young age. Kayla Larlee, 12, has taken part in the kettle campaign for as long as she can remember. Every year she participates in kettle shifts along with her family. She credits her parents for instilling this wonderful tradition in her.
“I love volunteering with my family. It’s a fun experience, and since they’ve volunteered before, I learned from them,” Kayla says.
Kayla’s mother, Jennifer Larlee, is glad to know that Kayla enjoys partaking in this family tradition.
“We are glad that Kayla has seen the need in the community through her family and our work with The Salvation Army. She knows that there are people out there that need our help and that it feels good to make this part of our Christmas tradition,” Jennifer says.
This tradition is also being passed on to Kayla’s younger sister. despite being only four years old, she has already been present during kettle shifts with her family a couple of times.
“I love volunteering with my family. It’s a fun experience, and since they’ve volunteered before, I learned from them.” KAYLA LARLEE
Like Kayla, Malakai Gleadall, 16, has been involved with The Salvation Army for most of his life. He has attended camps, assists with the streaming of his local church’s Sunday service on YouTube, and is involved with the kettle campaign each year. While he first started volunteering at a kettle with his family, he has continued to do so on his own in recent years.
“I eventually volunteered by myself. I felt the holidays weren’t the same without it and it just felt right,” Malakai says.
What Malakai enjoys the most about being part of the campaign is seeing the joy on people’s faces when they recognize The Salvation Army.
“It’s such a good experience to see how joyful people get when they see The Salvation Army. Especially the elderly, who tend to get memories of their childhood when they hear The Salvation Army band play. It’s a nice experience overall,” he says.
This young generation of volunteers hopes to carry The Salvation Army torch for years to come.
“It’s such a good experience to see how joyful people get when they see The Salvation Army." MALAKAI GLEADALL
Last year, more than 59,000 volunteers gave the priceless gift of time and skills to help people in need.
If you are interested in volunteering, please visit salvationarmy.ca/volunteer.