Eighty-nine year old Bill Isaac has been counting money for the Salvation Army in Kelowna, B.C., for a very long time.
“Since 1958, which works out to about 65 years,” the senior told Global News.
The money he’s been counting every Christmas season comes from the organization’s red kettles that have become a fixture across Canadian communities, including the Okanagan, for many years.
“The Salvation Army has been here since 1919. Bill Isaac has been counting money for over half of that time. Sixty-five years counting money. It’s unbelievable,” said Maj. Mark Wagner with the Kelowna/Lake Country Salvation Army.
Isaac is a former banker and says counting cash is in his blood. “I love it,” he told Global News. “It just comes naturally.”
So much so, he doesn’t even use a calculator.
“No, never,” he said. “It takes longer to punch it in there.”
The senior also credited his father for his sharp math skills.
“My dad was a school teacher and he used to make us do the multiplication tables by making a clock and putting the multiplier in the middle and then pointing to the numbers on the outside and you had to keep up with him,” Isaac said.
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The money Isaac counts is done at an undisclosed location and always by a group of people for both accuracy and accountability.
Wagner said he’s extremely grateful to Isaac and the other money-counting volunteers.
“I think they’re the hidden heroes of the whole thing. Nobody sees them usually,” Wagner said.
“And if you don’t count the money afterwards, you can’t do anything with it — can’t even be deposited.”
This year’s kettle goal for the Kelowna Salvation Army has been pegged at $850,000.
The goal is a lofty one amid high inflation but the organization is optimistic the community will come through as always.
“Year after year, even in the middle of COVID, they come through, they came through,” Wagner said. “And I think they’re going to come through again this year. It’s a very, very generous community.”
It means Isaac and his fellow volunteers will have plenty more counting to do, allowing him to not only give back to the community but keep his mind sharp while doing it.
Isaac said he has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“My niece says I’m going to live to 100,” he said. “So that’s another 11 years.”
The Salvation Army is still looking for bell-ringers to pick up two-hour shifts.
If you would like to volunteer, you can call the Kelowna Salvation Army at 250-860-2329, ext. 105.
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