(L-R) MODESTO’S CAPTAIN CINDY Dickinson, Diane Gagos, Kenni Friedman, Carole Stuart, Bette Belle Smith, Captain Mike Dickinson at the Kettle Kick Off.
Through both innovative events and traditional appeals, Salvationists throughout the West are providing opportunities for communities to support the Army’s work.
The following reports tell of the public’s response to the Army; their generous donations will all serve to make Christmas a little brighter and a little merrier for those in need. Above all, the news of God’s gift to humankind, Jesus Christ, will be proclaimed as “the reason for the season.”
Country music recording artist Toby Keith headlined the 2003 National Kettle Kick Off, an annual holiday tradition launching The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraising campaign during the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game. The seventh annual National Kettle Kick Off was broadcast by CBS.
“We are proud to be partners with The Salvation Army and very pleased with how this half-time has developed into a national holiday tradition,” said Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner and general manager. In 2002, Red Kettle donations totaled almost $90 million across the country.
The Modesto Citadel Corps’ Eleventh Annual Kettle Kick Off raised $138,990 this year during the seven-minute dash-for-cash of the community’s business professionals and leaders around the Centre Plaza. The winning team was “The Christmas Angels” consisting of Bette Belle Smith, Dianne Gagos and Kenni Friedman. “Faith, Hope and a Red Kettle” was the theme of the event, which marked the beginning of the Modesto Red Kettle drive to collect money to support their programs.
Captains Mike and Cindy Dickinson, Citadel corps officers, began the program and introduced the new leaders of the Army’s Corps Community Youth Center in South Modesto, Captains Fred and Tawnya Apuan. Lynn Dickerson, publisher and president of The Modesto Bee, served as master of ceremonies for the event which hosted over 950 people. The kitchen staff of The Modesto Citadel served a traditional homemade Thanksgiving turkey dinner to their guests. The Concord Corps Band Ensemble greeted everyone with festive carols, setting the tone for this grand occasion.
Colonel Richard Love, divisional commander, presented a lifetime membership award to Roy Phillips for his membership on the Modesto Citadel Advisory Board since 1969. Ernie Tate, Virginia Tate, Fay Gilstrap, Phil May and June May each received a special Christmas award plaque for the many years they have counted money from the daily street kettles each Christmas season.
Major William Raihl, Salvation Army Clark County Coordinator, Las Vegas, Nevada, shared his experiences as a relief worker in Iraq following the onset of war there. He shared slides and personal stories of his twelve weeks of service. The crowd was moved by his first-hand account of The Salvation Army’s work in Iraq.
Bakersfield ARC Graduate Darrell Midkiff spoke at the Bakersfield Corps Kettle Kick Off Luncheon and Klash. In his testimony, Midkiff related how he was homeless and pushing a grocery basket for some four and a half years. While at the ARC, he committed his life to Christ. Prior to this time—14 years earlier—he had lived with his girlfriend for about ten months. When he graduated from the ARC he walked outside one day and a tall, skinny 14-year-old boy walked up to him and asked him “Are you my dad?”
Darrell, through the ministry of Captains David and Diane Ebel, is very involved in the Bakersfield Corps and recently he and his girlfriend from 14 years earlier were married and the whole family is now active in the corps.
Major John Randall, ARC administrator, received a call from a lady after the Kettle Kick Off, reporting she had won tickets to the Kettle Kick Off on the Christian radio station. She took a local homeless woman with her; God spoke through Darrell’s testimony and this homeless women received Christ as her Savior that very evening.
The Salvation Army in Seattle teamed up with the Seattle Seahawks for the inaugural Salvation Army Turkey Dressing Contest. Armed only with infant clothing, rubber gloves and aprons, four Sea-hawk football players faced off in a contest to see who would emerge the winner in “dressing” their turkey.
The contestants were Seahawks players Dustin Kroeker, Walter Jones, Robbie Toebeck, and Steve Hutchinson. The judges, comprised of local sportscasters Gaard Swanson, from KIRO TV and Angie Metnick from FOX SPORTS, had the tough job of critiquing the contestants in three categories: speed, creativity, and showmanship.
Although the diapers were neglected by all contestants, after grueling debate, Steve Hutchinson was announced the winner with his festive holiday-dressed turkey. Robbie Tobeck got in touch with his inner self, dressing a pretty pink pastel turkey and was awarded second place. Walter Jones came in third place with his hip-hop turkey. Dustin Kroeker came in last place.
Special thanks went to the Honeysuckle White Turkey Company for its generous donation of 125 turkeys through distributor Safeway to The Salvation Army’s William Booth Center.
This year, as the title sponsor of The Salvation Army Southern California’s Thanksgiving Eve dinner at the Los Angeles Convention Center, DisneyHand, worldwide outreach for The Walt Disney Company, supplied the meals for 2,400 homeless and low-income families, and provided them with magical entertainment and toys for the children. Volunteers worked 1,600 hours welcoming and serving the guests.
Steve Allen, event organizer, reported “More than 500 volunteers and staff worked together to make this a very special and meaningful night for all our dinner guests and program participants. They were most appreciative about the quality of food, the friendliness of their volunteer table servers, and the spectacular floor show which had the hallmark of Disney stamped all the way through it!”
Television star Bob Saget introduced the Pacifico Dance Company, Groove 66, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Carmen Twillie (featured singer on “Circle of Life” in Disney’s The Lion King), The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center’s Gospel Choir, and The Salvation Army brass band.
Southern California Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Alfred R. Van Cleef welcomed the special guests who included: Arnold J. Kleiner, president and general manager of KABC TV, Jovana Lara, ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor, Councilman Tom La Bonge, Councilwoman Jan Perry, Assistant Chief of Police Sharon Papa, Honorable Judge Harry Pregerson, and past Mayor of Los Angeles Richard J. Riordan.