Houston and area residents now have a more convenient way to make donations to the Houston Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign.
Being installed this week in front of the Army’s thrift store and to be there right until Dec. 24 is a tap machine so people can make donations using their credit or debit cards.
“We’ve been having trouble getting (kettle) volunteers for several years now. And the volunteers we’ve had have been saying people have told them they wish there was a way to take debit or credit. People just don’t carry a lot of cash on them anymore,” explained Salvation Army Lieutenant Rick Apperson.
“This way people can now just tap for donations of $5, $10 or $20,” he said of the devices called ‘tiptap machines’. “The money goes right into the Houston Salvation Army bank account.”
The Army began introducing the tap machines across the country several years ago and after being satisfied they perform as expected, the decision was made to install one here.
“They are also more secure,” said Apperson as there won’t be large amounts of cash on view.
With the tap device in place, the Army is now turning its attention to preparing hampers for local distribution.
Apperson’s anticipating in the neighbourhood of 140 hampers this year for approximately 500 people in the Houston area.
“We’re seeing people we have not seen before, people with children and there’s been an uptick in seniors,” he said.
The Salvation Army’s presence in the Bulkley Valley includes Smithers and the Hazeltons, providing Apperson with a regional viewpoint of the needs of residents.
“I’m seeing more familiar faces in Houston now, people that have moved to Houston from Smithers because of the cheaper price of housing here,” Apperson added.
Hampers this year will consist of gift cards for food at Buy Low and have a list of suggested Christmas food items.
“The gift cards also give them more freedom, to buy items that are familiar to them for Christmas,” Apperson added.
While there will be toys for children, teens over 13 will get gift cards for items they prefer.
Hamper distribution takes place Dec. 17 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Army’s drop in centre.
The kettle campaign is not the only way the Army is assisted in the Houston area. Food and other donations from the annual RCMP-initiated Cram the Cruiser event goes to Salvation Army programs here.
And just recently a Houston Secondary School 24-hour famine campaign raised $815 to be divided between the Salvation Army and the Love by the Bowl soup kitchen.