MILLEDGEVILLE — Many families in need of financial assistance, food, clothing, household items, toys and even faith during the Christmas holidays receive aid and hope through community donations to Salvation Army’s holiday assistance programs.
During the season of caring and sharing, many local volunteers can be found around town ringing the famous gold bells and collecting monetary donations in the traditional red kettle, which plays an integral part of the Christmas scene.
Bell ringers will continue urging Walmart, Kroger and Hobby Lobby shoppers to help feed families this Christmas from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
“Our goal this year is to raise $30,000 in the Baldwin County area, and we have not met that goal. The money collected in the red kettles will go to help provide food for families for Christmas,” Salvation Army Service Center Director Lisa Bell said. “Volunteers are a major part of our recruit because every volunteer we don’t have to pay to bell ring, that’s one more child we can feed.”
Nine students volunteered their time to bell ring outside Kroger Thursday in hopes to fill up the Salvation Army red kettle. They were participating as a community service project for Baldwin High School HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).
“I want to help others have a better Christmas,” senior Kayla McCray said. “We want people to donate to make someone happy.”
The bell ringing season starts in November and runs through Christmas Eve. Salvation Army provided nearly 4.2 million people assistance during the holidays last year.
“We’re not just bell ringing; we’re helping and assisting year-round people who live paycheck to paycheck, including veterans and the elderly,” Bell said. “This year, we had well over 15 groups help bell ring, which is a lot more than last year. We’ll be able to help well over 150 children, and that does not include the elderly.”
The Milledgeville Belk store and Tractor Supply have angel trees adorned with the names of local children whose families are unable to provide gifts and clothing during the holidays. Donors can pick out a paper angel with a child’s name and purchase Christmas items for that child. Funds from the red kettle fundraiser help provide Christmas to children who do not get adopted off the angel tree.
“We want more families to come to us, not only at Christmas time,” Bell said. “We can help them over the bumps in the road; they can turn to us.”
As of Thursday evening, nearly $1.5 million was collected through the online red kettle. The national goal for the online red kettle is to collect $3 million. A donation of $25 to Salvation Army helps give a child clothing and school supplies; $50 helps feed a hungry child for an entire week; $75 helps heat a family’s home during the winter; and $100 helps shelter a homeless family for five days.
The community can drop off household items, furniture, clothing and monetary donations throughout the year at the local Salvation Army thrift store, located at 461 E. Hancock St.
“Anything we can’t use, it goes into recycling trucks that turn it into roofing materials and flooring materials; it does not end up in a landfill. Let us decide what’s trash and treasure,” Bell said. “Every dollar we sell goes back into the community to help families with their utilities.”
For more information about the Salvation Army, or to donate items, funds, or time, call Bell at 478-452-8737, or visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.
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