Braving cold weather and falling snow, decked out in Santa hats and all kinds of holiday attire, more than 800 Calgarians rang in December on Saturday at Eau Claire Market, by participating in the Salvation Army’s 28th annual Santa Shuffle.
In partnership with The Running Room, the Santa Shuffle is a family-friendly fundraiser where participants gather donations and then participate in either a five-kilometre run or one-kilometre walk on the first Saturday in December.
“The money [raised] helps us provide practical assistance to those in our community who may be struggling with poverty, hunger, addiction or homelessness,” explained Al Hoeft, spokesperson for the Salvation Army.
This year, the donations collected from this event and the charity’s annual Christmas Kettle Campaign – which sees volunteers collecting donations in their signature red kettles at numerous locations across the city – are even more crucial as the Salvation Army has noticed a slight dip in donations according to Hoeft. This is due, in part, to the recent country-wide Canada Post strikes.
Weather no match for runners’ spirits
Santa Shuffle participants like Lyndsay Kozey are hoping that the more than $30,000 that this year’s event raised will help ease some of the charity’s burdens.
“I heard about [the Santa Shuffle] through some running friends a few years ago and, since I love Christmas, decided to start doing it,” Kozey said. “I really love what the Salvation Army stands for and how much they give back to the community and others, especially throughout the holiday season.”
Kozey, who walked one kilometre with friends after years of doing the five-kilometre run, wasn’t deterred by the sub-zero temperatures and snow that greeted participants. Instead, she quite enjoyed it.
“The experience was so awesome,” she said. “The snow started falling before the run which made everything so magical outside.”
Salvation Army introducing changes to Christmas kettles
With this year’s Santa Shuffle all wrapped up, the Salvation Army can now turn its attention to its Christmas kettles, and Hoeft said the hope is that some modernization of the campaign will help make donating easier.
“We’re hoping with the addition of our new point of sale machines, where people can donate by debit or credit card, that [donations] will pick-up,” he explained.
Last year, over 1.7 million people in Canada and Bermuda were helped by The Salvation Army, and last Christmas 269,000 of those people benefitted from food hampers and toys provided by the charity.
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