Kettles again overflow with good will
Bell ringers appear throughout the West as holiday traditions continue.
The 22nd annual Bakersfield Toy Run is the largest event of its kind in the country.
The kettles are overflowing!
This holiday season, many predicted that charitable giving would suffer from “donor fatigue” after the outpouring of donations for the Indian Ocean tsunami and the U.S. hurricanes.
In fact, the opposite has occurred—people seem to have developed an increased awareness of the needs of those in their own communities as well as across the nation and around the world.
Throughout the territory, friends of the Army have given generously at the kettles, thereby bringing a happier Christmas and a brighter New Year to many in their communities who would otherwise have gone without.
Bakersfield Toy Run largest in country
With over 4,000 motorcycles, over 350 classic cars, over 6,500 new toys and over 1/4 ton canned food, the 22nd annual Bakersfield, Calif. Toy Run was again the largest of its kind in the U.S.
The caravan rode to the Kern County Fairgrounds where they dropped off their donations. The fair grounds were open to the public, and all were welcome to view the vehicles and make a contribution. The event featured food, prizes and live music.
Salvationists and friends of The Salvation Army staffed the Toy Run, volunteering their time to help those in need in their community.
After the event, volunteers remained busy, assembling the 1,200 Christmas Blessing Food Baskets and thousands of toys for those 1,200 families.
All in a day’s work
Golden State Divisional Commander Joe Posillico reports that on one notable day, they picked up their first Google Stock gift from Santa Clara County, valued at slightly over $1 million. Additionally, they received a $250,000 grant from the Irwin Foundation for the Turk Street Project, $100,000 from Modesto for their endowment campaign, and a donor walked into the Salinas Corps and gave them a $37,000 stock gift.
The division’s kettles and mail appeals are also up—they give God the honor.
Celebrity bell ringers race to set record
The Modesto Citadel Corps, led by Captains Mike and Cindy Dickinson, celebrated its 13th annual kettle kick off, sharing the Army’s message of Doing the Most Good. One thousand and thirty people attended the event, which featured guest speaker Territorial Commander Commissioner Philip Swyers and 66 celebrity bell ringers made up of community and business leaders who raced for seven minutes to raise a record $200,000.
Major Joe Posillico, divisional commander, presented a community award to Ricky and Rachel Valenzuela of the endless Nights Car Club for 10 year of service through their annual Turkey Drive.
Winners of the coveted Bellringer trophy were the Christmas Angel team, comprised of Bette Belle Smith, long time resident and civic volunteer; Lynn Dickerson, Modesto Bee newspaper publisher; and Kenni Friedman, former City Council member. Together they raised $26,233.
This event preceded eight more kettle kick offs in the area, including Monterey, San Francisco, Salinas, Bakersfield, Merced, Watsonville and Santa Clara. This year, the total of these events topped $675,000, a 30% increase over last year.
“Power of 2” unites community in Alaska
“I wanted to organize something and give something back to the community,” said David Rayfield, an employee at Parker, Smith and Feek, who, with his coworkers, last year adopted a week of bell ringing at the New Sagaya location. “Taking part in the red kettle drive not only touched my heart but gave me a new perspective on the holiday season,” he continued. And, he added, “we had a blast!”
This year David and his fellow employees have again adopted a week—they’ve shined their bells and pressed their aprons. Pictures of last year’s experience were hung in the office to motivate employees to get involved again. David says they’re geared up and ready to go for this year’s kettle drive.
“This is a great way to celebrate the season, giving the gift of hope to those most in need in our community while discovering the spirit of the season for themselves,” said Public Relations Director Jenni Ragland. “We are having a great response to our call for volunteers, with many individuals and groups making an annual holiday tradition of ringing the bells at our red kettles.”
In the Alaska Division, the Power of 2 campaign encourages Alaskans to give two hours of their time during the holiday season to join the ranks of its volunteer army and help reach its fundraising goal of $150,000.
Hawaii’s Fish Net collection
Last year, Salvation Army volunteers in Hawaii collected about $21,000 in a five-hour period through their innovative Fish Net collection. The volunteers stood on busy streets and offered their nets to passing cars and pedestrians.
This year, the net expanded to include all three Oahu corps (Leeward, Kaneohe and Kauluwela) as well as three Maui sites (Lahaina, Kahului and Kihei). Results have been phenomenal!
So far, over $35,000 has been collected. The corps will be putting out the nets again, and hopes are high for a bountiful harvest. Last year the total between the two days was just over $32,000; already they have surpassed that amount.
Bozeman’s “Red, Blue and Yellow Friday”
While the retail world knows it as Black Friday, in Bozeman, Montana the day after Thanksgiving became “Red, Blue and Yellow Friday” at the Bozeman Ice Dogs hockey game as the team hosted The Salvation Army for the annual kettle kick off.
The Salvation Army Youth Choir sang the national anthem to open the game, the Children’s choir performed, and kettles were in the lobby and out front heralding the new kettle season.
“It’s a great way to start the season and the city of Bozeman has been wonderful in partnering with The Salvation Army,” said Captain Tim Carr, corps officer in Bozeman. He added that the event did immeasurable good in raising awareness of what the Army is doing in the community.
The stadium, which holds 3,500, was sold out, and the Army was invited back for next year. “I can really see this growing into a big tradition here at the Bozeman Corps,” said Carr.
Athletes, neighbors team up in Anacortes
Athletes and Christian youth groups helped with the Anacortes, Wash. corps’ sixth annual kettle kick off/food drive.
The athletes, from Anacortes High School, canvassed local neighborhoods to gather non-perishable food items for The Salvation Army food bank. During the course of the food drive, over 300 people stopped by at the KLKI radio station for the official kettle kick-off.
Participating were Mayor Dean Maxwell, County Commissioner Don Munks, Port Commissioner Pat Mooney, and the official Northwest divisional kettle bug (courtesy of divisional headquarters). Throughout the afternoon, radio station owner Bill Berry broadcast live, challenging people to bring in donations and conducting interviews.
Over $2,500 was raised in three hours; approximately 8,000 pounds of food was collected (not including over 300 turkeys donated for the Thanksgiving distribution).
“We are continually amazed at the support and generosity from the people in our community,” said Corps Officer Captain Michael Paugh. “The spirit of giving was present on this day in Anacortes.”
Krugerrands donated in Denver
In Denver, four Krugerrands were donated to a kettle at a King Sooper location. Worth nearly $1,000 each, the gold coins gave quite a boost to Denver Metro’s kettle effort.