William Booth, Founder of The Salvation Army, and his family had moved into a new house and were determined to have the happiest Christmas Day yet. But after a morning of preaching in the East end of London, England, Booth came home looking pale and drawn.
“I’ll never have a Christmas Day like this again,” he cried out. “The poor have nothing but the public house.” (Informally known as a pub). This was the last Christmas Day he spent at home.
By the next April breakfasts were being served to nearly 900 poor in the East London Theatre and preparations for the next Christmas (1869) were put in place. “We are arranging to give 4 lbs of beef, a plum pudding and 1 oz of tea to each of 300 families on Christmas Day, and we hope to be able to do much more,” declared Booth.
When Christmas Day arrived those of the Booth household who were old enough were out among the needy handing out puddings made in the kitchen of their home. That day 300 people received a Christmas dinner, most of who would only have dined on a cup of tea and a bit of dry bread.
Christmas Dinners Today
From coast to coast, and in Bermuda, hundreds of Christmas dinners are served at Salvation Army centres. This year, with the nation being hit by a recession, The Salvation Army has had record numbers of people seeking emergency assistance for themselves and their families. This Christmas many families need a hand up and your generous donations allow The Salvation Army to do just that.
The following are snapshots of services provided for those in need at Christmas:
In Bermuda, at the annual Christmas dinner, the Salvation Army band provides music while guests enjoy their turkey and cassava pie meal with all the trimmings. Guests also receive a gift.
In Yellowknife, on Christmas Day at The Salvation Army shelter, staff members engage clients in activities such as making gingerbread houses and playing games while they wait for Christmas dinner. Community volunteers help serve the dinner and distribute gifts to all those staying in the shelter.
In Winnipeg, The Salvation Army Booth Centre hosts its annual Christmas dinner for the homeless with help from local politicians and volunteers.
In Chilliwack, The Salvation Army Christmas dinner is one of the most special events of the year. More than 1,300 families are able to enjoy a dinner with all the fixings.
In Sudbury, money raised during the Christmas appeal provides more than 2,000 Christmas dinners to families in the area, along with emergency food, clothing and lodging throughout the year.
In Hamilton, The Christmas dinner held by The Salvation Army Booth Centre serves single men, women, and their children.
How to Donate
The Salvation Army solicits donations through its direct mail program, Santa Shuffle Family fun run, the iconic Christmas Kettles located in shopping malls and stores across the country and the online kettle. Donations are also accepted online at SalvationArmy.ca or at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
Individuals are not authorized to solicit donations door to door for, or on behalf of The Salvation Army. If you are solicited at your door please do not donate.