Salvation Army gets help for the holidays
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 2, 2006 - By the end of the upcoming weekend, Hopkins County Salvation Army will have launched three of its holiday programs.

They got started this morning when the organization helped kick off a holiday food drive being hosted by Gober-Merrell Auto Group to benefit Hopkins County families.

On Friday, HCSA is slated to receive assistance from a number of individuals representing the county's volunteer fire departments, and at least two local judges and officials, in kicking off its annual kettle drive. The Salvation Army kettle drive is one of the more visible efforts of the charitable organization, with the bright red Christmas kettles set up outside businesses throughout the holidays.

Hopkins County Salvation Army is funded primarily through donations made during their annual Bell Ringing Campaign at Christmas time. The funds raised by firefighters and in volunteer-manned kettles will be used to supplement Angel Tree donations and help support the Salvation Army in the coming year. All donations to Salvation Army will remain in Hopkins County.

Funds raised during the campaign will be used for a variety of purposes, such as helping families begin their lives anew after a house fire or other natural disaster by providing basic needs such as clothing, food and the cost of a motel stay during those first difficult days, or to help provide transportation for those who need medical assistance.

Volunteer firefighters from several different departments in the county will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the courthouse for a kickoff ceremony, then stage at the intersections around the downtown square throughout the day, prepared to accept donations for HCSA. Others will work at various kettle locations throughout the season, to help take donations.

The kettle drive will continue at least through Christmas, with other volunteers manning kettles or other receptacles set up at local businesses and throughout the county to accept monetary donations during the holiday season.

The local group also helps sends five children between the ages of 10 and 12 to Camp Hoblitzell, a 1,000-acre camp in Midlothian, free of charge. The group also works with the Emergency Operation Center in Sulphur Springs during inclement weather, and participates in making decisions concerning the need to evacuate residents.

In the unlikely event of rain, the volunteer firefighters will stage downtown on Friday, Nov. 10, to really get the kettle drive in gear.

Saturday, will be the first sign up date for those parents or guardians hoping to receive assistance in giving their children a bountiful Christmas, thanks to gift donations to the HCSA Angel Tree project.

Parents and guardians will have three opportunities to sign their children up for the Angle Tree: from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday, Nov. 4; from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6; and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9. All sign ups will be conducted inside Factory Store of America across the hall from Kitchen Collection.

Angle Tree applicants will be required to provide names and social security numbers for all adults and children in the household, as well as kids clothing sizes, family income and other information. Those families filling out applications for other similar programs such as Empty Stocking will not qualify to receive toys through the Salvation Army.

Angel Trees will go up Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving at VF Outlet Mall and at First Convenience Bank inside Wal-Mart. trees are decorated with angels, one for each child benefiting from the program.

Recipients should plan to pick up their child's gifts from VF Outlet Mall on Dec. 13.

For more information about Salvation Army Angel Tree, food drive and kettle/bell ringing campaign, to volunteer time and labor or to donate to any of the projects, call Hopkins County Salvation Army Chairman Jo Marie Neal at 885-9858.

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