Nathanael and Jessica Hoeft encourage local families to volunteer at the Christmas kettles this year, and share the message hope with a #HOPEbracelet. Sheri Regnier photo

Nathanael and Jessica Hoeft encourage local families to volunteer at the Christmas kettles this year, and share the message hope with a #HOPEbracelet. Sheri Regnier photo

Trail church asks families to tend the Christmas kettles

Volunteering teaches kids how to be generous of heart, if they can’t be generous of wallet

Overseeing the Salvation Army Christmas kettle is one way to show children how anyone can be generous of heart.

Story here: Bells jingle at Christmas Kettle in Trail

“We have to move away from the selfies, and the ‘me,me,me,’” began Jessica Hoeft, a mother-of-three and Trail Community Ministries Leader. “So this year we put it out there that we need volunteers, and if families want to do it, that’s a great starting point to help your children learn that giving your time, even if you can’t give money, also helps a lot. And it’s fun.”

Bell ringers are still needed at the Silver City kettles. And it’s getting to be crunch time with a $40,000 target to meet and less than two weeks left until Christmas.

Shifts are two hours and most locations are outdoors, so volunteers are reminded to dress for the elements.

“We’ve had a number of first-timers this year and they say it’s been a great experience, ” said Jessica. “But we still need more help, which is why we say it’s not just for adults, it can be a whole-family experience too.”

All money raised between now and Christmas Eve will help the Trail Salvation Army fill 220+ holiday hampers for local families, that’s in addition to their regular monthly hampers the food bank provides.

Anything left over will go towards sustaining the Rossland Avenue pantry for a few months as well as the soup kitchen.

A new feature at the kettles this year is the hope bracelet. Anyone who donates can choose to wear the red bracelet and share the church’s message of hope this holiday season.

“They are meant to be more of a physical visualization about how the Salvation Army is present without really being bold in-your-face,” Jessica explained. “When you look at it, it says ‘hope.’ And that’s the big message we try to get across, that we are giving hope today.”

There is, however, a little “me” bonus for those who wear – and share – an image of the bracelet using the hashtag #HOPEbracelet on the church’s BC Division Facebook page or Instagram account.

“You take a picture of it on your wrist,” she said. “And share in on social media. You can win a $250 gift card for Amazon, an iPad or a pair of tickets to the World Junior Hockey Championships.”

Jessica and her husband Nathanael Hoeft are new to the city. The two were called to lead the Trail Community Ministries in the summer, and they have since settled into small town B.C. This was a big change for the family-of-five, considering they moved here from Winnipeg, leaving friends and relatives behind.

“Our kids have adapted really well, they have lots of friends,” Jessica shared. “So Trail already feels like home to us.”

No matter where they live in Canada, the Hoefts are passionate leaders of the church and compassionate members of the community.

“The services we provide are not something to be ashamed of,” said Jessica. “We provide it in the most respectful and dignified way that we can. Because we know a lot of time, the people who access our services are feeling ashamed and down on their luck. We don’t want them to feel that way, we know people have hard times, even us, and we all need help up sometimes.”

Between the kettles and the mail-in campaign, just over $108,000 was raised last Christmas to help meet the local need.

To sign up for a shift at the Christmas kettles, contact the Trail Salvation Army Church at 250.368.3515.

Hosted at more than 2,000 locations across Canada, the annual Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign is the organization’s largest fundraising drive of the year and would not be possible without the thousands of kettle workers who volunteer their time.

Provincially, the goal is to raise $4.5 million to help feed, clothe and shelter individuals and families in-need.