In their first year shepherding The Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps, Capts. Tom and Ruth Kenyon are looking forward to the nonprofit’s holiday season. Along with raising funds at Red Kettle stations, the organization’s Angel Tree program is assisting children — newborn to 12 — with gifts and clothing.
“While this season is always busy for all Salvation Army officers, one’s first Christmas in a new appointment can be a bit of a roller coaster,” he said. “Our styles of running the program tend to be different from officer to officer, so at times we may have a hiccup. We stay hopping at our location as we are getting equipment ready, looking for volunteers and still running the programs we have year around.”
Starting Friday, bell ringers will be accepting financial donations from the community through Dec. 24 at various locations across Bartow. Volunteers will be stationed each Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Belk, Hobby Lobby, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, Ingles Markets and Food Lion, with the last two kicking off their drives in December.
“What we would love to raise is $100,000 during the season,” Kenyon said. “We are learning what part we play in supporting those in the community who are in distress. We presently help with the prevention of homelessness through our utility assistance programs and food pantry.
“We need to expand our services to include rent assistance. Presently we are not aware of any nonprofit giving assistance in this area. Keeping someone in their home is far more cost effective than having to find a new home and pay deposits again. Achieving the goals would allow us to expand more supportive services.”
To help the Red Kettle campaign reach its full potential, The Salvation Army is seeking additional bell ringers.
“We love volunteers,” Kenyon said. “Families with children can sign up for an hour, groups generally take the whole day and individuals are a two-hour minimum. Where we are running behind is finding bell [ringers] who we will pay. They ring the bells during the week as many of us are at work. We need to hire at least 20 more people. Interested parties can call 706-409-2198.
“In our previous appointments, we love getting to know the bell ringers that we see every day and catching up with the groups that ring for us year after year. Our very favorite moment was when our daughter, Hannah, who was 4 at the time, was so excited to be able to ring the bell she nearly ran into the stand. Twenty minutes later she was done, which is why we think an hour is good for a family.”
As with the Red Kettle campaign, the Cartersville Corps also is looking for people to support its Angel Tree program.
“Presently we have about 125 families we are serving, which includes about 400 children,” Ruth Kenyon said. “We are fortunate that we have so many other nonprofits and churches that are also making sure each child in Bartow County has a wonderful Christmas.
“Toys for Tots will still continue to sign up families in the beginning of December. Their Facebook page will have the dates. … An informal count when registering the families shows about [one] third of the families are new. Most are one income or no income families, and we are blessed when they share their stories with us.”
At the Angel Tree sites, individuals can select a paper ornament containing a child’s first name, clothing size and suggested gifts. Anonymous donors need to deliver the contributions, unwrapped, by Dec. 11 to The Salvation Army’s social service office at 16 Felton Place.
“Our hope is when someone sponsors an angel, they will purchase an outfit, jacket, shoes and at least one of the toys on the child’s wish list,” she said. “We understand not everyone can do that, so we ask that you shop with your heart. We know the child will be blessed.”
Echoing her husband’s comments, Ruth Kenyon also is delighted to be celebrating the Christmas season in Cartersville.
“In the few months we have been here, we are even more excited to be part of this community than when we first arrived,” she said. “We are looking forward to all the Christmas activities that happen here in Bartow County. We want to say thank you to all who have supported The Salvation Army in past years and thank you to all who will support us this year.”
For more information on The Salvation Army’s holiday campaigns, call 770-387-9955.