As The Salvation Army's Cartersville Corps ushers in the new year, its leadership is extending thanks to the community for its support during the holiday season. In addition to generating funds through its Red Kettle campaign, the organization assisted about 350 children — newborn to 12 — with Angel Tree gifts and clothing.
"This year for us was very different," said Salvation Army Capt. Ruth Kenyon, who joined the Cartersville Corps June 23. "In our last two appointments, we were responsible for a larger coverage area. A larger coverage area generally brings with it a larger stress level. And I must say this was the most memorable and wonderful Christmas season. Why, because of the ministry and miracle we experienced each day.
"This was only possible with all the individuals, civic groups and churches that helped us through out the season. We want to say 'thank you' to everyone who helped this season, from the smallest child bringing us food to the oldest person serving meals to the homeless."
The Red Kettle campaign — where bell ringers collected donations from the public at sites across Bartow from late November through Dec. 24 — raised at least $33,000 for the Cartersville Corps. The number could increase as the nonprofit tallies donations placed online or sent through the mail.
"We did achieve 88% of our goal," Capt. Tom Kenyon said. "We are pleased with the result as this year we had a challenge hiring any full-time bellringing — we had one for a week.
"The volunteers in this community helped us salvage this challenge," he said, specifically naming Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, Trinity at the Well and the Kiwanis Club of Cartersville. "We had volunteers ringing in Cartersville and Adairsville. The money goes to help our prevention work, prevention from being hungry, prevention from being cold, prevention from being lonely and prevention from being homeless."
For Kenyon, the holiday campaign was filled with heartwarming moments.
"The Kettle program has been around long enough that the sound of the bell is Christmas," he said. "When you ring the bell, you are making Christmas memories for not only yourself but those that hear it as well.
"... We loved the musical groups that came and made memories, from handbells to senior chorale singers. We loved seeing families ringing together. We loved hearing little children, while ringing the bell, tell [a] passerby, 'This helps the poor.'"
During the Angel Tree outreach, donors selected paper ornaments containing a child’s first name, clothing size and suggested gifts at participating sites across the county. After checking off the youngsters' wish lists, the anonymous individuals delivered their contributions, unwrapped, to The Salvation Army's social service office at 16 Felton Place.
"We helped 135 families and about 350 children," Ruth Kenyon said. "Last year, we struggled adopting all the children. This year we were blessed. With any system, we can have some hiccups and we did have some angels we needed to fix. And due to the generosity of the donors, we had enough to fix everything.
"My favorite memory is a homeless woman coming in for food assistance and leaving with her children having experienced a Christmas party and sneaking toys into the car while the kids were eating and playing games. We helped families all the way to Christmas Eve."
For more information about the local Salvation Army, call 770-387-9955 or visit its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/salvationarmycartersville.