For Peter Godfrey, taking part in the annual Salvation Army kettle campaign is a cause close to his heart.

“I’ll do it every year if I can because they’re so good, the Salvation Army, they’ve been so good to me when I stayed at the Salvation Army here,” he says, collecting donations in Saanich on Thursday.

When Godfrey was homeless and battling addiction, he was helped by the Salvation Army.

“It was cold and freezing and not nice at all,” Godfrey says. “I know what it’s like to be homeless and it’s not nice at all.”

Peter also has a developmental disability and he says the Sally Ann’s helped countless times over the years.

“They’ve given me clothes over in Vancouver, they’ve helped me with so many things over the years,” Godfrey says. “I don’t have words to describe it. I’m speechless.”

It’s the reason CHEK holds a Christmas charity drive for the Salvation Army every year and thanks to the incredible generosity of CHEK viewers, donations are already pouring in for the 25th annual charity drive.

“It’s amazing that it’s our 25th year,” says CHEK Drive Thru Producer Michael Woloshen. “A bunch of us got together in 1993 thinking, ‘well, let’s do something Chistmasy and give back to the community a little bit.'”

Over the years, thousands of kilograms of food, clothing and household goods have been raised, as the need in our community continues to grow.

“We’re looking for new and gently used toy donations, even household goods, things that are in good shape that we can provide to people,” says the Salvation Army’s Patricia Mamic. “We give emergency hampers year-round to families in need who come through our doors.”

Non-perishable food, cash donations and gift cards for hard-to-buy for teenagers are also needed.

This year, there are also more ways to give than ever before including an online CHEK kettle  and a drop-off location at Spencer Middle School.

You can also text hope1005 to 45678 to make a $5 donation.

“We’re expanding our reach to the West Shore, through phones, through online,” says Woloshen. “I’m just hoping we can make a bigger impact to the community by being able to give more.”

Tess van Straaten