Salvation Army food bank

Hannah Merchant, the West Kelowna Salvation Army’s new full-time community and family services coordinator, stands among the shelves that make up a little shopping area for folks using the Salvation Army's supportive food bank. The West Kelowna Salvation Army is looking for food donations, especially pasta and sauce and hearty soups, preferably with a pull tab opening.

The needs on the Westside are different than those in Kelowna and Lake Country, so September’s decentralization of the Salvation Army Central Okanagan has meant the West Kelowna Salvation Army can now tailor its services to the needs

of Westbank, West Kelowna and Peachland.

“Because of the growth in the area and the increasing needs, we recognized that we would be able to serve the community better directly,” said Jennifer Henson, who along with her husband Rob, oversee the West Kelowna Salvation Army Renew Church and Community Ministries.

They have responded to the need for more services on the Westside by hiring Hannah Merchant a as a full-time community and family services co-ordinator, allowing the West Kelowna Salvation Army to increase its accessibility from Tuesdays-only to offering walk-in times Mondays and Fridays.

On other days if there are individuals in crisis, the Salvation Army has both food and clothing available, as well as time to talk to people.

Merchant will work to create a volunteer network and get other people involved.

The Salvation Army’s divisional headquarters gave the Westside a grant to hire a part time youth coordinator.

Lindsey Payler helps run the Friday night Kids Connect program, a Sunday afternoon Revive Youth program and is teaming up with the Westside Youth Centre to run a free anger-management program.

While the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank is the Westside’s primary food bank, those who need additional help can come to the supportive food bank at the Salvation Army up to six times a year.

Because they found not everyone wanted what they were receiving in the pre-packed food boxes, the West Kelowna Salvation Army has added a small shopping area where folks make selections such as what type of cereal they would like or lunch snacks for their children.

The Salvation Army can also go beyond food and help with clothing vouchers, household items and linens through their thrift store.

The West Kelowna Salvation Army is looking for support.

Food donations are needed, including substantial meals such as pasta and sauce and hearty soups, especially items with pull tabs so a can opener is not needed.

They are always in need of hygiene products and toiletries.

As well, the thrift store, whose revenue supports the Salvation Army’s programs and services, is running low on clothing donations.

People who want to support the Salvation Army and aren’t able to give money can donate clothing. Those who can’t give clothing or money can consider volunteering.

“It all fits together to support everything,” said Jennifer.

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to help in the Community Life Centre including greeters, hosts and hostesses, food sorters and bell ringers.

For more information on volunteering, call Hannah at 250-768-1850 ext. 2.

The West Kelowna Salvation Army is also accepting imperfect warm clothing and blankets.

For example, a jacket with a rip in it that’s not saleable in the thrift store can still be donated to the Salvation Army Community Life Centre.

They will give it to somebody who needs it to stay warm.

With the onset of colder weather, Jennifer said the Salvation Army is giving out blankets and warm clothing as fast as they come in.

To avoid duplication of services, the Kelowna Salvation Army will continue to heavily staff emergency and disaster response with the Westside’s support.

Due to space considerations, Christmas hamper distribution and the toy shop will be set up in Kelowna.

The West Kelowna Salvation Army is located at at 3531 Old Okanagan Highway.