Army rings in holidays
Salvationists throught the West make the holidays brighter for others.
Cascade Division: Pendleton, Oregon—Corps Officers Captains Don and Martha Sheppard have found a way to make sure they have enough bell-ringers—simultaneously ministering to people and building the kingdom of God. While serving in Denver, they went to the homeless shelters, promising coffee and breakfast to all who would come and stand at a kettle. Word got around; people were eager to go. That year, because every site was manned, kettle income doubled. When Christmas was over, the Sheppards were surprised when the bell-ringers kept coming back—to church!
They have continued this ministry in Pendleton, where the corps soldiers are involved, too; a soldier prays and gives devotions each morning before the workers head for the kettles. One year, the Sheppards made “baseball cards” for the bell-ringers, which they gave to corps members so they could pray for a specific bell-ringer.
Each year, several bell-ringers move from being hopeful volunteers during the week to Sunday attendees after the holidays. The next season, it begins again—with former bell-ringers mentoring and praying for the new group of bell-ringers.
Rufus, Oregon—Shaun Jones, service extension director for the Cascade Division, reports that for the fourth year, the service extension unit in this small town has prepared a Thanksgiving meal, serving upwards of 300 people. The Army supplies the food, and volunteers prepare and serve it.
With only 290 people in town, though, whom are they serving? Truckers—they feed the truckers who are away from home, driving on Thanksgiving. The truckers stop for a home-cooked, traditional Thanksgiving meal, enjoy some fellowship, and then are back on their way.
Alaska: Celebrating 62 years of the red kettle in Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin issued an Executive Proclamation declaring November 15 as “Red Kettle Day.” At the 11th annual Season of Giving Luncheon in Anchorage, local business leaders and celebrities joined with The Salvation Army for the kettle kick off. A skit, A Kettle…Painted Red, written specifically for the event, portrayed the first kettle on the wharf in San Francisco. Celebrity bell ringers then encouraged those in attendance to fill the kettles. At the end of the five minute bell ringing competition, the kettles held over $70,000 that will support the Army’s continued mission to combat hunger, child abandonment, sexual trafficking, senior concerns and social addictions.
Mat-Su Valley—In the Mat-Su Valley, the mayors of Palmer, Wasilla and the Mat-Su Borough were invited to ring bells. They not only proclaimed November 23 as “Red Kettle” day in the Mat-Su Valley, but each also took a turn for two hours at a kettle. Since changing over to all volunteer bell-ringers three years ago, the kettle income has nearly doubled, with more new volunteers giving time each year.
Operation Santa—The Salvation Army, partnering with the Alaska National Guard in the Operation Santa Claus project, flew to rural Alaska to deliver Christmas presents to the children there. The Army provided more than 1,100 gifts for children living in the communities of Wainwright, Kotlik, Togiak, St. Michael, Shismaref, Buckland, Manokotak, Upper Kalskag, Alakanuk and the children of deployed Guard members from the community of Barrow.
Captain Howard Bennett, territorial community relations and development secretary, joined the excursion to Togiak, accompanied by Alaska Divisional Commander Major Doug Tollerud and Board Chairman Bill Earl. Over 400 kids with their friends and family—virtually everyone in the village—were present, listening to the Air Force band and patiently waiting in line to receive toys from Santa. Even the village elders got into the spirit, taking their turns to greet Santa, the Lt. Governor and the volunteers.
The Salvation Army has participated in the Operation Santa project for more than 30 years.
Del Oro: Hayward, California—Corps Officer Captain David Oh reports that the Hayward Korean Corps held a first-time kettle kick off at the Koreana Plaza Market in Oakland. Many people from the Korean community attended, including reporters from all major Korean newspapers and magazines.
After the opening prayer, Alameda County Coordinator Major Patrick Granat spoke, including a brief account of the Army’s kettle history. The corps songsters sang Christmas carols and Granat played a cornet solo, “Hark, the herald angels sing.”
Granat presented golden kettle ornaments to the owner of the Korean Market and to retired Envoy Paul Yoon, who started the Korean ministry in the East Bay area. The gathering concluded with the singing of a famous Korean kettle song, “Sound of love bell,” and the benediction by Corps Sergeant-Major Hyun Chang. The event was a time of celebration for the Korean community.
Hawaii and Pacific Islands: It was a day of giving thanks and of entertainment as The Salvation Army served nearly 7,000 Thanksgiving meals at various locations on all the islands. On Oahu alone, a record number of guests topped 2,500 as no one was turned away at the 37th annual dinner held at Neal Blaisdell Center. Everyone from Hilo to Lihue enjoyed a traditional meal. The annual event is the Army’s gift to the community.
Intermountain: Colorado Springs—About 4,000 people enjoyed a free Thanksgiving feast provided by The Salvation Army at five locations around El Paso County on Thanksgiving Day. Additionally, over 1,500 volunteers helped distribute hundreds of meals to shut-ins. The Army will also serve a community holiday dinner on Christmas Day at six locations in Colorado Springs, Fountain and Manitou.
Southern California: Pomona—Corps Officer Captain Moy Hernandez, Jr. reports that the Pomona Corps organized a free community Thanksgiving dinner and Red Kettle kickoff with the help of advisory board members and community leaders. City Mayor Norma Torres presided.
Twenty-five turkeys were cooked in five hours with the help of California Polytechnic State University; they have agreed to prepare the entire meal for the Army’s annual Thanksgiving dinner in Pomona from now on.
Over 100 volunteers served 525 meals. The event raised more