Leaders of the Brooke-Hancock Salvation Army said they know many people are tightening their belts in the face of the current economy. But they're hoping local residents again will find room to reach out to fellow citizens who are perhaps struggling even more.
Salvation Army Capt. Ed Long said the organization has seen a decrease in giving at the same time that need has increased greatly.
"Many of the people who have helped us now need help themselves," said Long, who heads the Brooke-Hancock Salvation Army with his wife, Capt. Goldie Long.
SEEKING HELP — Ronnie Taylor of Wellsburg is among area volunteers aiding the Brooke-Hancock Salvation Army by serving as bell ringers at kettles. The organization will be accepting donations at many local businesses and collect toys for families in need from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Weirton Wal-Mart.
-- Warren Scott
Long said in recent weeks the Salvation Army received a surge of support from local businesses.
"Of course that's going to go real quick because there's so much need," he said.
Long said about 150 Brooke County families and 225 Hancock County families received assistance at Thanksgiving. The number seeking Christmas assistance has remained about the same in Brooke County and risen to 300 in Hancock County, he said.
From donating food or toys to serving as bell ringers at one of the Salvation Army's famous red kettles, there are a number of ways people can help.
Long said a Salvation Army truck will be at the Weirton Wal-Mart from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to accept donations of unwrapped toys for children.
It's a new move, conducted with the store's cooperation, to encourage giving.
Angel trees bearing the wishes of local children in need also have been posted at many local churches and a number of businesses.
In Hancock County, the trees can be found at Ted's Pharmacy, Wal-Mart, Kmart, both First Choice America Federal Credit Union locations and Hancock County Savings Bank.
Angel trees have been placed at the following Brooke County locations: Brooke County Public Library, Chambers Store in Bethany, Dollar General Market, Dollar General Store in Wellsburg, Mark's Carryout, Traubert's Pharmacy and Main Street, Progressive and WesBanco banks.
Those who "adopt" items from the trees are asked to turn in the gifts by Monday.
Long said many residents enjoy manning the kettles because it emphasizes the holiday's spirit of helping others. Bell-ringing need not be a solo effort as families and members of civic groups have gathered to collect donations for the cause.
Long said several businesses are allowing staff to man kettles on Fridays.
Bell ringers are needed between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Kettles have been established at both Weirton Kroger locations, the Wellsburg Kroger store, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Shop 'N" Save, Tudor's Buscuit World, Riesbeck's Food Store, Dollar General Market and Dollar General Store in Wellsburg.
Long said the Salvation Army provides area residents with food, utility assistance and other needs throughout the year, so donations of money and nonperishable food area always appreciated.
To get involved, residents may call (304) 737-0071 or (304) 748-4310.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)