Greetings from The Salvation Army of Augusta! Starting this Thursday, it will start sounding a little like Christmas with the ringing of our famous bells. Red Kettle Season, our largest annual fund-raiser, helps fund our homeless and emergency services, soup kitchen, youth programs, and social services.
ON NOV. 10, from noon to 8 p.m., we will have our Second Annual Red Kettle Kick-Off at Kroger on Washington Road at Alexander Drive. Kettles representing the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern University, the University of South Carolina and Clemson University will be manned by fans and boosters for each team, with the team receiving the most donations being declared the 2011 Kettle Kick-Off Champion!
This friendly competition not only provides bragging rights for local sports fans, but also helps remind everyone that it is officially Red Kettle Season at The Salvation Army of Augusta.
From Nov. 10 until Dec. 24, we will have red kettles stationed at more than 25 locations in the greater Augusta Area. Of course, all those red kettles need bell ringers, so we encourage you or your church, civic organization, school or business to volunteer to ring bells.
The Salvation Army of Augusta provides the kettles, stands, aprons and bells – all you have
to provide is a cheerful attitude and a desire to help the less fortunate. In past years, volunteer bell ringers have even brought some creativity to the endeavor by
wearing matching Santa hats and singing Christmas carols to passers-by.
THIS YEAR, CHURCH youth groups have a special incentive to get involved as The Salvation Army of Augusta will hold the Second Annual Battle of the Bells. Youth groups volunteer to ring bells for an entire day, and the youth group with the most money raised during their day of bell ringing is declared the winner. To learn more about how to get your organization involved in bell-ringing or to sign yourself up, please call volunteer coordinator Katie Atkinson at (706) 826-7933.
The funds raised from donations to our red kettles help support people in need, right here in the greater Augusta Area. Because of your generous donations, we are able to feed almost 100,000 people a year through our soup kitchen. These meals are fed to men, women and children staying in our homeless shelters; men taking part in our drug and alcohol rehabilitation program; and anyone who needs a good, free dinner any night of the year.
YOUR GENEROSITY during red kettle season also provides protection from the elements, warm showers and dignity for those staying in our homeless shelters. Many men and women who find themselves in our shelters never thought they would need the help of The Salvation Army of Augusta.
Jerome (not his real name) is a perfect example of the diversity of people that visit our shelters. Jerome, a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, found himself needing a place to lay his head. After numerous stints in and out of the shelter, Jerome was able to save enough money through his construction job to leave the shelter and gain his own housing.
THE CHANGE you place in the red kettles also helps men fight alcohol and drug addiction through our six-month residential Corps Salvage Rehabilitation Center. This free program provides men with the tools necessary to become productive, working citizens who can resist the allure of their old lives.
As part of the program, the men perform work therapy that serves to not only enhance their workplace skills, but also builds self-esteem. Members of the CSRC program also attend group meetings that assist them in gaining a new perspective on their lives
as well as learn techniques to avoid bad habits. Such a comprehensive, free program would not be possible without your kettle donations.
If you would rather personalize your assistance to those in need, please consider adopting an angel. You may participate in the Angel Tree program by picking up an angel tag at the Kroc Center; our three Family Thrift Stores; and area retailers. Each angel tag includes a child’s gender, clothing size, age and a “wish gift.” Gifts can be returned to the The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree after being purchased. These generous gifts will be given to parents who may then experience the pride of providing gifts for their children and the treasure of sharing in their excitement.
AS YOU CAN see, there are numerous ways to give back to your community this Christmas season through The Salvation Army of Augusta. Whether it is a gift of your time, talents or financial resources, we promise to “Do the Most Good” with what we are given.
As we like to say, when you put money in our kettle, expect change.
(The writer is administrator for The Salvation Army of Augusta.)