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Soup, soap and salvation

For more than 130 years, the Salvation Army has given hope and dignity to Canadians living in poverty

UPDATE: The Salvation Army’s 2017 Christmas Kettle Campaign raised $23.1M nationally, which is the second-highest total ever raised by the organization during the holiday season. These funds will help The Salvation Army feed, clothe, shelter and empower vulnerable people in 400 communities across Canada.

Among the crowds of holiday shoppers hustling to strike gifts of their lists, the sound of bells jingling outside major shopping centres and supermarkets is part of Christmas in Canada.

Those bells signal the annual Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign—a key fundraiser that sustains the organization’s mission to help millions of people living in poverty in 400 communities across Canada.

So, what is The Salvation Army, anyway?


The Salvation Army is a Christian organization founded in London, England in 1865 by husband and wife team William and Catherine Booth. The duo adopted a paramilitary leadership style (including labeling William as general, ministers as officers, and members as soldiers) to efficiently meet the physical and spiritual needs of the poor.

William preached and Catherine engaged the wealthy, gaining financial support for their work that followed their self-described “Three S” model: first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.

Approximately 20 years later, the army came to Canada. Since its inception here in 1882, the organization has grown to become one of the largest non-government social-service providers in the country.

Social Services

Services provided by the Canadian Salvation Army include practical assistance for children and families and life-changing programs, like substance abuse recovery, housing supports, job and skills training, and budgeting and education classes, which help people find a way out of poverty, permanently.

Key Canadian 2016/17 metrics: 

  • 6,700 shelter, addictions, detox and mental health beds for vulnerable men, women and families
  • 3.3 million free meals
  • 1.3 million people helped with food, clothing or practical assistance

How to donate

“The Salvation Army is truly grateful for the generosity of Canadians across the country,” says Major John Murray, Territorial Secretary for Public Relations and Development. “For over 130 years, the Salvation Army has provided hope and dignity to people in need through this generosity.”

In addition to contributing cash to the Salvation Army’s physical Christmas kettles, donations can be made at or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).

Donors can also text HOPE to 45678 from most mobile carriers in Canada to have a $5 donation added to their monthly mobile bill.

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