TERRE HAUTE —
The familiar red kettles and tinkling bells of the season were brought out Thursday, as the Salvation Army kicked off its 2013 Christmas campaign.
The goal is to raise $200,000, which represents more than half of the Salvation Army’s annual budget. The funds help provide assistance to more than 1,500 families during the holidays, said Capt. Gordon Hoag of the Salvation Army’s Terre Haute office.
“This community is generous and very giving when they see those red kettles,” Hoag said.
And those red kettles will be found at 20 sites by Saturday, such as in front of Kroger grocery stores, Walmarts and individual businesses.
More than 100 volunteers will staff the kettles, primarily between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, through Dec. 24. That is more than 5,000 volunteer-hours, Hoag said. The fundraising campaign extends to the end of the year.
In addition, the Rev. Honnalora Hubbard, chair of the 2013 Christmas campaign, distributed inaugural “Salvation Army Christmas Hero” awards to seven agencies/individuals in a kickoff ceremony at the Honey Creek Mall in Terre Haute.
“I wanted to stop giving the negative our attention and celebrate the incredible things that happen in the Wabash Valley each Christmas. Thousands of lives are touched, meals provided and gifts unwrapped because of our giving community,” Hubbard said after the award distribution.
“We have everyday heroes among us either giving a gift, dropping a dollar in a red kettle or volunteering for an hour. That may not seem heroic, but trust me, to the life they touch, it is nothing short of a hero,” Hubbard said.
The inaugural awards went to Novelis, Ampacet, Hamilton Center Inc., John Lopez, Maryland Community Church, Staff Sgt. James R. Lunsford of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Tribune-Star.
For 16 years, Novelis, a manufacturer of rolled aluminum products, has partnered with the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program, sponsoring at least 25 families with food baskets and Christmas dinners. Since 1997, company employees have supplied that support to 464 families, including 1,065 children.
Since 2006, employees at Ampacet, a manufacturer of color concentrates and additives have volunteered as bell ringers at the red kettles. Last year, Ampacet raised $1,082 during the kettle campaign, and volunteer hours amounted to $507.50 in wages.
Hamilton Center, a regional behavioral health system, collaborates with the Salvation Army on applications for Christmas assistance. This year they have provided more than 300 applications. “This saves not only two to three days worth of work, but also helps their clientele sign up in comfortable circumstances,” Hubbard said.
John Lopez, a 22-year old Terre Haute resident musician and student at Indiana State University, plays music at Salvation Army and community events. Last year, Lopez and his friends raised $1,549 while spending 251⁄2 hours at kettle locations.
For the past three years, Maryland Community Church has adopted more than 120 families in the Adopt-A-Family program, totaling more than 350 children. “Not only do they supply Christmas for the children, but have also adopted their parents. … They understand that it is nearly as important for the heart of a child to offer a gift to their parents as it is to receive one themselves,” Hubbard said.
Lunsford is the coordinator of the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program. More than 3,000 children “unwrapped brand new toys last year, due to the leadership and hard work of Staff Sgt. Lunsford and his fellow Marines,” Hubbard said.
For more than 90 years, employees of the Tribune-Star have been delivering food baskets to the needy. Families who receive the food baskets are chosen during a two-week signup period and screened by the Salvation Army. Local service organizations make financial contributions, and students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology annually contribute to help the basket fund surpass its goal. This year, the goal is to raise $30,000 and to deliver 500 food baskets.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.