Ringing in the holiday season|Red Kettle drive begins today

Published 6:21 am Friday, November 19, 2010

Contributing Editor

Those familiar Salvation Army red kettles, accompanied by bell-ringers, make their 2010 debut today in Washington and surrounding areas.
The donations dropped in the Salvation Army’s red kettles buys Christmas toys and food for needy families in Beaufort, Washington, Martin, Tyrrell, Bertie and Hyde counties.
This year, counter-kettle versions of the traditional red kettles will be located at 15 Wilco-Hess convenience stores and three First Bank locations, according to Lt. Chris Lyles, corps officer with the Salvation Army unit in Washington.
“We’ll be ringing from 10 (a.m.) until 8 (p.m.) Mondays through Saturdays,” Lyles said. “We have a couple of different locations from what we normally have. Of course, we have our traditional Wal-Mart and Belk here in Washington. We also have the Wal-Mart over in Williamston. This year, we’ll be able to ring at Burke’s Outlet, the new store that’s opened up by (Washington’s) Wal-Mart, and also Walgreen’s is allowing us at Walgreen’s this year.”
Other Red Kettle sites include the Piggly Wiggly on West 15th Street in Washington, the Piggly Wiggly on River Road and I Can’t Believe It’s A Book Store on West Main Street in Washington. Collections won’t be made daily at the bookstore site. Collections there will take place on selected days, mostly weekends, Lyles said.
“They’re doing a lot of Christmas events to bring in traffic downtown, so they’ve invited us to come down there as well,” he said.
The Red Kettle drive’s goal for this year is $45,000, Lyles said. Last year, the fundraising campaign raised about $37,000. With that money, the Salvation Army helped 287 families, Lyles said.
“It will go to help with the Christmas program, but also we use that as our big fundraiser to also help with needs year-round. So, it’s not just something we concentrate on just during December, but it goes to help families year-round,” Lyle said about fundraising effort.
This year, the number of applications from families seeking assistance is down compared to last year’s number, Lyles said. This year, about 200 families have applied for assistance, he said.
The Salvation Army is prepared to assist families who may face emergency situations that may occur before Christmas, Lyles said.
“Yes. We’re always looking for volunteers,” Lyles said when asked if volunteers are needed to man the Red Kettle locations. “We’ve had an excellent turnout so far with volunteers, but we definitely need more. We’ll have paid bell-ringers as well to fill in where we don’t have volunteers. Volunteers will get the first priority.”
In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McGee launched the idea for the Red Kettle Drive. He placed a large, cast-iron kettle on a ferry landing in San Francisco to raise money to feed poor families on Christmas. By Christmas 1895, 30 Salvation Army units were using red kettles to collect money, according to the Salvation Army’s website.
For more information about the Red Kettle drive or the programs it funds, call the Salvation Army’s Washington office at 946-2523.