In 1998, Brent Smith moved to Marlborough in northeast Calgary. “I had a professional job, but money was still really tight,” he explains. “I couldn’t really give to the charities I supported, but I could donate my time.”
Almost two decades later, Brent will continue to be a familiar face around The Salvation Army Christmas Kettles. He comes back because of the friends he has made and the positive experiences that have touched him. He also knows that it is a great cause and there is even more need now.
Brent says the volunteer vest often draws a response from passersby. “When you wear it, you become a symbol of what has been done, and they will give you a hug and tell you how The Salvation Army helped their family. I hear from people of all cultures, all religions, and all backgrounds.”
“It’s hard to talk about it without becoming emotional,” continues Brent. “I was approached by an elderly gentleman who wanted to share his story. He was a war veteran, and said after the battles when the medics didn’t think it was safe to help out, members of The Salvation Army were there putting themselves in harm’s way. He’s never forgotten it. And he wanted to say thank you to me for volunteering for the Sally Ann.”
Annually, Brent continues to be an unofficial volunteer recruiter. “Make sure you tell them (new volunteers) to start with a two hour shift,” he suggests. “A longer shift can be too much and it may spoil what should be a really great and rewarding experience.”
Brent gave that advice to a gent he met while at the Marlborough kettle. This fellow was going through a horrible patch. He was injured, had lost his job, and his pet cat had died. “I told him what better time to volunteer. You can meet people, hear their stories, share their smiles.” He began to volunteer and was blessed by the experience. "It's a fun, new, and great experience every year."