The Salvation Army of Yellowknife will not be holding its annual community Thanksgiving dinner as per usual due to “internal decisions,” Jason Brinson, executive director and associate corps officer, stated this week in an email.
“In the past we have covered Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army,” Brinson stated.
“We have cancelled the community Thanksgiving Dinner for this year. This occurred for a few reasons but it is our intention to resume next year.”
Brinson stated that the cancellation was not due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the church had not reached out to the Chief Public Health Officer about the event this year because it was “an internal decision.”
“It is our intention to resume the community meal next year,” he stated.
Every year the Salvation Army has been providing community service for food and shelter for those who need it most.
In recent years, the team at the Salvation Army has reported between 230 and 250 people attending the Thanksgiving dinners.
The church also typically runs a food drive and prepares for sale about 400 food hampers for $25 each to provide meals for those in need. That event was cancelled this year too.
Food packages purchased by the public are then given away to community members are then distributed over the rest of the year.
Brinson said there is always a need every year and the church continues keeping track of what is required.
“Our Community and Family Services is well prepared for any influx in those requiring services,” he said. “We continue to monitor the volume of people seeking food and other services in order to remain ahead of the need. In recent days, we have been in contact with our community partners and others from outside of the territory, to ensure we have contingencies in place should the need arise.”
Some of the work that the Salvation Army provides gained some attention over the summer as the GNWT has been trying to locate additional shelter space for the coming winter due to restricted space at the day shelter and sobering centre.
Over the summer, the Salvation Army discontinued providing extra space for temporary shelter in its church space. That temporary arrangement had been done to assist the Government of the Northwest Territories find space due to the day shelter and sobering centre restrictions.
“Our shelter operations are continuing per normal with Covid protocols and restrictions in place,” Brinson stated.
“We have reduced the capacity in the main shelter area to allow for proper physical distancing but since the beginning of Covid, have used the church space as an overflow in the evenings when the main shelter reaches capacity.”
Brinson said additional concern remains for finding shelter space for people, particularly in the downtown area as the colder and darker months approach.
“I am concerned as to where people will go for sheltering when our facility and others are at capacity,” he stated. “We are hoping that with some of the other places in operation now, that there won’t be a time where all sheltering locations are full with nowhere to send someone.”
Brinson said the church is continues to do well in other areas, including its thrift store on Franklin Avenue.
In June the church announced that it was reopening the store and is currently promoting a donation box.
“Thrift store donations have continued to be strong,” Brinson stated. “We are thankful to the community for their donations. The thrift store diverts thousands of pounds from the landfill, but more importantly, offers great product and for a great bargain.”
Brinson added that retail sales are down and that the closure of the store due to the Covid-19 pandemic has hurt the church. The store is open five days a week, which is reduced from its typical six days, but the six-day shopping day could resume soon, Brinson said.