As the holiday season approaches, Portage la Prairie's Salvation Army prepares to provide local families with all their needs.

According to Major Brenda Hammond, this year will be challenging to fulfill as she says that the numbers for our community are up drastically this year.

"Right now, we're looking at 367 hampers, and there will still be a few more that come in over the next week," says Hammond. "It's a crisis emergency situation. So, that's a very high number for this year. We expected it to be high, but not that high."

With the need for the Salvation Army exceptionally up, there is no better time to help than this weekend.

Friday, December 2nd, saw the Drive-Thru Jingle Bell breakfast and Portage Rotary Club Parade of lights collect many items from community members for the organization, but that isn't the last chance you will have this weekend to give back. 

Today is the annual Portage Terriers Teddy Bear Toss at Stride Place, with each teddy thrown on the ice going to a 'beary' good cause.

"It's an amazing tradition to see when you're actually there in the arena. It's very, very nice to see the bears flying out onto the ice," says Hammond.

The Salvation Army representative explains that each bear thrown on the ice will give another child in Portage a stuffed animal for Christmas.

"The U-11 hockey team is coming to help pick up the bears off the ice on Saturday night," continues Hammond. "There's a very good possibility that we will have a teddy bear for every single kid in need. That's pretty exciting."

The game will start at 7:30 p.m. against the OCN Blizzard, and the first goal by the Terriers will make it rain stuffed animals.

Lastly, Sunday, December 4th, the CP Holiday Train rolls through town at 2:45 p.m. where Santa Claus will be manning a Christmas Kettle for the Salvation Army, accepting donations on behalf of the Food Bank. Tenille Townes and more will be on the train that will do a show at the BDO Centre around 3 p.m.

Hammond notes that while the Holiday Train hasn't physically come through town since 2019, they held virtual stops last year in which they donated $6000 to the organization.