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127th annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign to kick off Thursday at Budweiser Gardens

Salvation Army Soldier Judith Harper-Ives collects donations at Sherway Gardens Mall in December 2006. Global news

A time-honoured tradition of Christmas giving will return to London for another year on Thursday.

The Salvation Army will kick off the 127th edition of its annual Christmas Kettle Campaign at Budweiser Gardens before the London Knights take on the Guelph Storm at 7 p.m. A local Salvation Army representative will take part in the puck drop.

During last year’s local campaign, the organization’s $500,000 target was surpassed by more than $100,000. A record total of $648,173 was raised by the Kettle Campaign over the season.

That generosity from Londoners is what prompted the Salvation Army to up its goal this year to $550,000, said Shannon Wise, spokesperson for the Salvation Army’s Ontario Great Lakes Division.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to break that target again this year,” she said.

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During last year’s campaign, the organization says more than 5,400 households received a food hamper and more than 6,000 children received a bag of toys. In addition, more than 30,000 Londoners were served by the Salvation Army food bank in 2016.

“It’s so great to see that Christmas spirit, and taking care of each other out in the community,” she said. “There’s so much hidden poverty and I think there’s become more awareness around that fact.”

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In addition to donations, Wise said the campaign is also looking for more volunteers.

“They’re aging, that’s just the nature of it,” she said of their current kettle crew. “We need the younger generation to step up and fill those empty shifts for us. Make it a fun thing, turn it into a family challenge, or volunteer with your high school students for them to get hours.”

Former London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best will once again serve as the Kettle Champion.

Anyone looking to donate or volunteer can find more information at FillTheKettle.ca.

– With files from Craig Needles

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