The Salvation Army is pulling its ubiquitous donation kettles out of Winnipeg Liquor Marts this Christmas season, the latest victim of the recent spike in theft and violence inside the outlets.
Salvation Army Capt. Jamie Rands said the charitable organization has decided it is too dangerous for its volunteers to help raise money from liquor-store patrons.
Rands said the decision comes just days after the charity announced the kettles were going into the stores despite the increase in crime but they intended to continue monitoring the situation.
He said Wednesday afternoon's violent robbery at the Tyndall Park Liquor Mart led the organization to reconsider.
Three employees were assaulted by three armed individuals. One woman suffered head injuries and was rushed to hospital in critical condition; she has since been upgraded to stable, police said.
After leaving the Liquor Mart, the suspects then went into the adjacent Tyndall Market mall and continued to assault patrons inside before one was tackled and detained by a bystander. The others fled.
"Looking at the safety of our volunteers and workers, at least for the interim,we will pull all the kettles in Winnipeg only." -Salvation Army Capt. Jamie Rands
"Looking at the safety of our volunteers and workers, at least for the interim,we will pull all the kettles in Winnipeg only," Rands said Thursday.
"Our hope is people who want to help will be able to find a kettle at another location."
Rands said it is tough to lose the eight Liquor Mart kettle locations during the organization's big push to raise $385,000 before Christmas. Kettles are, however, in place elsewhere, including Polo Park, Garden City Shopping Centre, Superstore, Costco and Canadian Tire outlets.
Last year, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries decided to ban kettles inside the stores after receiving complaints from customers about charities soliciting donations; the Crown corporation had decided it would allow counter-top collection boxes at the checkouts instead.
But MLL reversed course shortly after Salvation Army officials informed them that the organization was struggling to meet its financial goals.
"The worry is always there when we lose the locations," Rand said Thursday. "But we have no doubt the community of Winnipeg will rally together... we want to keep (the volunteers) first and foremost in a position of safety.
"If you're giving to the Salvation Army you're investing in the future of marginalized and often forgotten people. We thank you."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.