“I owe The Salvation Army my life,” said James Troughton who once called The Ottawa Booth Centre home.
James, now 58 lives in supportive housing and volunteers his time during the holidays by ringing the bells at The Salvation Army Christmas Kettles in Ottawa. James says volunteering is his way of giving back.
James suffers from PTSD and uses a wheelchair. Before receiving help from The Salvation Army and other community agencies, he found himself living on the streets of Ottawa in snow forts he built himself to stay warm.
The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre gave James a safe warm place to live where he also received the medical care he required in the special care unit.
“Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and my first thought would be wow I am still alive,” he said. “Because there are people on site at the Booth Centre 24/7 I could go downstairs and talk to someone about that experience.”
While at the Ottawa Booth Centre James kept himself busy volunteering his time in the laundry and becoming friends with the lead volunteer Tony.
“Learning to do the laundry gave me something to do and it kept me busy. It was better than sitting in the lobby or getting into trouble,” he said.
James recalls The Salvation Army also helping his family when he was a child when his father was laid off from Northern Electric in Montreal.
“The Salvation Army helped my family have a nice Christmas by giving us a hamper filled with food and gifts.”
In his early 20’s James also found himself recovering at The Grace Hospital in Ottawa after having both his legs broken.
“This is another reason I like to volunteer. I just can’t say enough good things about The Salvation Army and the staff at the Grace Hospital at the time,” he said.
James will also begin volunteering his time on The Salvation Army Housing Committee this December where he will contribute to the discussion on housing issues in the city.
“I would encourage anyone to volunteer as a Kettle attendant this Christmas. If you can talk to people you can do it,” said James. “Don’t be afraid to just say Merry Christmas and how are you or would you like to donate to the Christmas Kettle? If that doesn’t get people’s attention well there is the bell to ring!”
If you should see James or any other volunteers at a Kettle this Christmas give them a smile, and a Merry Christmas.
“I really hope the campaign does well and I am able to contribute in my own way. Hopefully we get lots of donations for people that need it so they can have a good Christmas.”
The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign supports local programs in Ottawa including our community meal line, emergency food and clothing for those in crises, sending kids to camp, after school programs, food banks, and funds 100% of our Emergency Disaster Services.
If you would like to volunteer at a Christmas Kettle you can sign up online at www.bellringers.ca or call 613-233-8428 x. 332.