12/21/2011 10:08 EST | Updated 02/20/2012 05:12 EST

Demand up, donations down, says Salvation Army

The Salvation Army says it is seeing a spike in demand across B.C. this Christmas season, while donations are slumping.

In the month leading up to Dec. 25, the Salvation Army aims to raise $2.5 million through its Christmas kettle campaign.

Major Brian Venables says demand for the organization's services is up 20 per cent, but donations are $300,000 short.

"I think there's a bit of economic woes and certain pockets of the province have suffered greatly and others have been relatively unscathed," he said.

Venables said Prince George and Prince Rupert are two cities where need is greatest. But he said donations have also dipped in Vancouver and North Vancouver.

Extended hours

He said part of the problem is fewer people carry cash, so the organization is looking to modernize how it takes donations.

"We've put out Interac machines at some kettles to see how that works," Venables said. "We've incorporated texting, we've got online donations.

In Victoria, Salvation Army spokesperson Kyla Ferns says its kettles are half full this holiday season, while the need for food hampers has increased.

Fern said the organization has collected just over $100,000 dollars in Victoria, but its goal is to collect $250,000 by Saturday.

She said the group is considering one option it hopes will increase donations.

"Typically, the kettles are manned between 10 a.m. and 6 pm. PT but we have been looking at specific locations being extended this week," Ferns said.

The Salvation Army is gearing up to distribute 1,500 Christmas hampers this year, which Ferns said is an increase of more than 100 hampers than last year.