STEUBENVILLE - It's a familiar sight bringing a familiar sound as the Salvation Army of Steubenville brings out its red kettles and bells to begin a campaign to help the needy at Christmas.
The Salvation Army will work to raise $40,000 when the six-week annual kettle campaign kicks off Thursday - money to provide food, clothing and help with emergency needs for the less fortunate in the community, according to Maj. Earline May, corps officer.
"While most of us associate the Christmas season with happy gatherings of family and friends, there are many who holidays spirits are crushed by the harsh realities of simply making ends meet," May said. " This holiday season, the Salvation Army in Jefferson County will bring hope to many needy local families who desperately need a helping hand," May said.
Janice R. Kiaski
READY?TO?RING?THE?BELLS — Salvation Army representatives Lorraine Linton, left, kettle coordinator, and Linda McClain, case manager program assistant, test the bells that will be among those that volunteers will be ringing as the kettle campaign kicks off Thursday at various locations, all in an effort to raise $40,000 to provide food, clothing and help with emergency needs this Christmas for community members in need. - Janice R. Kiaski
Beginning Thursday, the red kettles will be out at Kroger, Hollywood Plaza, Steubenville; Kroger in Wintersville; Riesbeck's in Wintersville; and Kmart in Steubenville. Kettles will be at Wal-Mart in Steubenville beginning on Black Friday.
Over the past 11 months, the Salvation Army of Steubenville has served 6,361 individuals through its food pantry, providing them with 23,625 meals in addition to 1,597 hot meals, according to May.
"The need is greater than ever. Over the past two years, the Salvation Army has seen a 60 percent increase in need, and we so desperately need help to continue to meet those needs," May said.
In addition to the kettle campaign, the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program begins on Nov. 14 and continues through Dec. 14. Local Angel Tree sponsors are Dollar General in Steubenville, Mingo Junction and Wintersville; Kings Restaurant in Wintersville; Wal-Mart Distribution Center; Wal-Mart Superstore; Huntington Bank, Steubenville; Bob Evans; Applebee's; student senate at Eastern Gateway Community College; Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church; Zion Church; and the Social Security office, Steubenville.
"We are all partnering together because we want to make sure that children find some toys under the tree, those who would otherwise go without," May said.
Traditionally, the Salvation Army's bell ringers in the community help generate significant support for programs communitywide at their red kettles. "However, bell ringers continue to face restricted access in setting up kettles. Local donations are down due to the economy. Home foreclosures are unprecedented, unemployment is still a major problem and prices for essentials are rising. All this contributed to an increase in families seeking help from the Army during the Christmas season and an increase in the cost of providing help," she said.
"In this period of economic uncertainty, our income just can't meet the every-growing needs," May said. "In the last two months our food bill to stock our food pantry to feed the hungry has averaged between $5,000 and $7,000 each month. We need help to care for our neighbors right here in Jefferson County who face a most difficult Christmas season, struggling even to meet their most basic necessities. I'm confident our faithful friends and those new supporters who see the need will share generously and won't let them down," May said.
The Salvation Army works to help the needy year-round, according to May.
"Although our visibility is more heightened during the holidays, it is important for the community to know that our Army's programs are ongoing," she said. "We don't just hand out a blanket and a cup of coffee to a needy person. We want to give them a hand up to get them back on their feet and into a productive and fulfilling role in life. The Salvation Army's motivation comes from faith in Jesus, and we'll help them regain their hope and purpose by sharing the good news of God's love and offering support in any way we can."
To donate to the Salvation Army, call (740) 282-5121 or mail a gift to the Salvation Army at P.O. Box 1226, Steubenville, OH 43952.