Burlington Salvation Army's Toy Mountain grants a lot of kids' Christmas wishes

Mountains are seen as daunting and a challenge but one kind of mountain is considered more desirable the bigger it gets.

The Salvation Army Burlington Community and Family Services hosts Toy Mountain in its warehouse. It is a large collection of toys donated by companies like Toys R Us, by residents dropping off gifts at the east end office on Mainway Drive and through Halton Regional Police’s Cram A Cruiser event.

Majors Dean and Margaret Locke are in charge of all the family service work done by the Salvation Army in Burlington.

“They and their small staff along with many volunteers have organized this mountain of toys and have been registering all the people for Christmas, as well as overseeing all the administration that takes care of the Christmas work done by The Salvation Army here in Burlington,” said Major Bob Speakman, the Christmas Kettle Campaign co-ordinator for Burlington.

“Parents this year will be able to go from section to section and choose what gifts they feel their children would like the most. If we are short in age categories, we purchase more when needed,” he said.

Speakman said the people they serve have come into the Mainway office to ask for help at Christmas and have passed a means test meaning they meet the Salvation Army’s income-per-family-members guidelines.

“Some are new immigrants, others are what we call the working poor or others are seniors trying to make a small pension and higher rents work.

Some have family members that require extra work and costs as well as others whose unemployment (payments) has run out or hasn’t begun yet, injuries etc.,” said Speakman.

“There are all kinds of reasons people find themselves on our Christmas list. We helped almost 1,000 families last Christmas and by the time Christmas finally wraps up we expect to be somewhere near that number of families.

“We provide gift certificates for Christmas food purchases of the recipient’s choice; most prefer this method. In certain circumstances we can provide the more traditional Christmas food basket.”

Speakman said food donations are made available to people who will still be in need during the winter months. The re-stocking of the warehouse’s food shelves begins after Christmas.

Then there is the all-important Christmas Kettle Campaign. It provides whatever help is needed at Christmastime as well as throughout the year. It is the Salvation Army’s main revenue source for the year.

“It keeps us open and running all year long,” said Speakman.

All funds raised by the Christmas kettles stay in Burlington

As of Dec. 5, the Burlington kettles have brought in $116,000. The goal for 2018 is $290,000.

On Monday, Dec. 10 the Costco Christmas Kettle will open up, a big money-maker.

“Last year we raised approximately $130,000 in the last 12 kettle days before Christmas. That seemed like a Christmas miracle gift from Burlington citizens. We will need to do something similar reach our goal of $290,000 this year,” noted Speakman.