Ottawa Salvation Army Captains Develop Fun Programs to Help Local Community During Lockdown

by Caroline Franks

For some, getting through the long, cold winter can be challenging, especially this year with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and limited social opportunities.

The Salvation Army Ottawa Citadel is keeping connected with their community by providing  a number of safe and fun activities for local families. Salvation Army Captains Graciela and Jeff Arkell decided to call the set of activities “Winter Warm Up!” events.

The series of events began in January by encouraging families to share their favourite soup recipes that were then shared online. In early February, other events included sharing photos of pet sleigh rides, baked winter treats,  snowmen and the making of snow angels.. The idea was to keep families busy and entertained during the lockdown.

Winter Warm Up events also included “Chili on a Chili Day” where members of the congregation cooked pots of chili to share with the community. “The chili was all made and donated by the congregation and we delivered the chili to seniors, individuals  and families in need, and we also made 80 fruit baskets to deliver as well,” said Captain Graciela.  “They were delivered to a number of areas including Ottawa South, Orleans, Barrhaven and Kanata.” Captain Graciela says she has more ideas in mind coming in the next few weeks and to stay tuned on their Facebook page.

The Ottawa Citadel continues to serve the community in other ways through their food bank and provide  vouchers for Ottawa Salvation Army Thrift Stores to assist those in need of clothing and household items. “We are starting to see an increase in need again, with about 30 people coming to us for food a week,” said Captain Jeff Arkell.

Captains Jeff and Graciela are also ensuring many of their ministry  programs are still accessible virtually.   Online worship services are posted on Facebook on Sundays, the children’s Sunday school is held online at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and an online women’s group is held on Wednesdays at noon.

“We are so grateful and encouraged by the public’s support throughout the pandemic, the 2020 Christmas season, and throughout the year in helping to provide support to critical programs that bring hope and change for local families,” said Captain Jeff Arkell. “We are so thankful.”

To provide financial support to The Salvation Army, donations can be made online at or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, where donations can also be directed to a specific program or location.

By Caroline Franks