Christmas cheer brightens year

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SACRAMENTO CAN TREE rises above (l-r) Major Warren Dabis, 2001 Can Tree Chair Tim McGuire, past Chair Pam Poore of Sacramento Association of Realtors, and Major Oliver Stenvick.

Coming at the end of one of the most difficult years in memory, this Christmas season was made a little brighter–and lives were made a little lighter–by the loving acts of Salvationists throughout the West.

Gifts of coats and clothing, toys, and holiday meals–all given through the love of the Christ child who was born so long ago–served to warm and nourish the bodies and souls of thousands of those in need.

Montana’s U.S. Congressman Denny Rehberg, who represents the most populated congressional district in the country, took time out of his busy schedule to be a sponsor and volunteer for the Army’s Dress-A-Child program in Billings, Mont., where he was paired up with 5-year-old Alexis Ross for the shopping spree of new clothes at K-Mart.

For almost an hour, they shopped for everything on her list. When the cart was full and the spree was over, Rehberg told Lexie he had to go. “Good-bye, Denny,” the little girl said. “Thanks for helping me pick the right clothes.”

“Congressman Rehberg was moved by the experience,” said Corps Officer Captain Randall Kinnamon, “and he has already signed up for next year’s Dress-A-Child.” Sponsors donated $95; when combined with discounts from K-Mart, each needy child received about $120 to spend on clothing and footwear. The Billing Corps’ program assists about 325 needy children each year.

In Sacramento, Calif., the Sacramento Association of Realtors raised more than $73,000 to buy food for the boxes that The Salvation Army in Sacramento distributes to needy individuals and families.

Seattle’s annual “Salvation Army Bells that Help Day” raised $140,000 this year, as scores of local celebrities joined with Salvation Army officers, volunteer bell-ringers and brass musicians to assist in the effort. Among those lending support were Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Seahawk Coach Mike Holmgren, King County Executive Ron Sims, Husky gridders Paul Arnold and Larry Tripplett, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, Fire Chief Gary Morris, and a host of others.

At Crestmont College, The “Glory of the Lord” was revealed through the majestic strains of Handel’s Messiah.

The first annual “Sing Along Messiah” brought over 200 people, young and old alike, from churches and communities around the South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula. Some came with well-worn personal copies of the musical score and others listened to the famous oratorio for the first time.

One elderly couple, with score in hand, said they had been waiting forty years to attend such an event in the Peninsula and were thrilled that The Salvation Army had provided them with the opportunity to take part.

The sixteen-piece orchestra, conducted by Territorial Music Director Jim Anderson, included members who play for St. Peters by the Sea Presbyterian Church and five Salvationist musicians.

Vocal soloists were Colonel Keitha Needham, soprano; Sherry Bouma, alto; Glenn Peterson, tenor; and Christopher Moody, bass. Cadet Eric Lee read the scripture portions.

-Crestmont report
by Major Charleen Bradley

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