'Tis the season for two Kamloops charities to gear up for their Christmas campaigns.
The Salvation Army kettles and the Christmas Amalgamated toy boxes are back for another year.
Christmas Amalgamated opened its doors at 880 Eighth St. on Tuesday. Co-ordinator Sally Whitson said Thursday people can start registering now and choose toys for their children.
"People are learning, the sooner they get registered, the better. And we have all the good toys now. . . . Right now, we have a good selection," she said.
"I have a tremendous shortage of baby blankets this year and toys for babies. And of course secondary to that is always toys for boys and older children."
She suggested watches as one option for the older kids.
When a parent registers, he or she goes through the depot and picks out items for the kids. The toys go home with the adult for wrapping. And a week before Christmas, volunteers will deliver the dinner hamper to the family.
Whitson said the building is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday for now. But as Christmas approaches, the hours will be longer and the office will be open on Saturdays, too.
New, unwrapped toys are always welcome, as are cash and cheque donations. Monetary donations will get the donor a tax receipt.
Donations of second-hand coats are also welcome, but everything else should be new, she said.
People or businesses wanting to "adopt" families to put together hampers can also call in to get matched up.
Last year, Christmas Amalgamated handed out 1,800 hampers. Whitson said she had families with as many as 14 children getting help.
This year, the organization is on Facebook, too, which seems to be keeping volunteers in the loop as they have already started showing up, she said.
Four of the Salvation Army's 12 Christmas kettles were set up Thursday, said co-ordinator Heather McQueen.
By Dec. 1, they'll all be out.
McQueen said she still needs volunteers to shake bells and thank donors when they drop money into the kettles.
And for three locations, she needs people who are willing to stand outdoors to do their charitable work.
Some of the other kettle locations are in doorways, so volunteers should expect to dress warmly regardless of where they're stationed.
McQueen said she'll work with whatever hours people can give.
"Some do two or three hours, some do marathon four or five. And some bring the kids and I'll try to make it an hour."
Last year's kettle campaign raised $185,000. This year's goal is $200,000.
"People have such a soft spot and affection for the Salvation Army. They see those kettles and they know we only do this once a year," she said.
"This is our operating budget for the whole year. This is what keeps us going all year."
This year's effort is getting a boost from technology. Donors can text to give $5 increments that are added to their phone bills.
As of Thursday, the kettles are out at Save-On Foods, Walmart, Superstore and London Drugs.
HOW TO GIVE
* Christmas Amalgamated
880 Eighth St.
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christmasamalgamatedkamloops
* Salvation Army
To volunteer for kettles, call 819-0017. For other donations, call 554-1611.
To text donations of $5 that will be added to your phone bill: HOPE1017TO45678
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