The Red Kettle Drive, one of the many programs organized by the Salvation Army, aids individuals and families in need during the holiday season. Monetary donations collected from the kettles help feed, clothe and supply gifts to those who'd otherwise go without.
The local Corps Unit of the Salvation Army, as its counterparts across the country, is recruiting able-bodied volunteers to sacrifice a little time to assist with the Kettle Drive. Anyone can volunteer, Major Anthony Baso, Commanding Officer of the Kingsport Corps of the Salvation Army said, and "give at least a couple of hours."
The drive, which kicked off in conjunction with the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program on Nov. 17, runs through the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
The Tri-Cities' goal, as a whole, is to raise $470,000 including $200,000 in Johnson City; $120,000 in Bristol; and $150,000 in Kingsport.
Last year's Kingsport Kettle Drive had volunteers from 12 groups, including veterans groups, church groups and civic clubs, stationed at businesses such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Food City. However, the local (Kingsport) goal wasn't quite reached.
"We try to build on the previous year," Major Baso explained. This year, the hope is that more people volunteer and more donations are made so that more Christmas wishes become a reality.
Outside of the Kettle Drive, the Salvation Army hosts other seasonal charity events to benefit the homeless, the hungry and those in need. A traditional Thanksgiving meal will be served on location from 12 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22. Many are expected to attend since 300 were fed last year.
Also, the Angel Tree program aids disadvantaged children and the elderly; community citizens adopt a child/senior from the tree and purchase clothing in their size and toys/gifts of their request, bringing their wish list to life and joy to their faces. The program runs through Dec. 13, with gifts distributed on Dec. 20.
All gifts donated through the Angel Tree program must be new.
"We do not give used items to people at Christmas time," Major Baso said. "We want Christmas to be special."
The Kingsport Corps of the Salvation Army, located at 505 Dale Street, has been "Doing the Most Good" through charitable acts since 1929. Unique to its location, it can house 60 of the area's homeless, with 15 spots reserved for veterans through the Per Diem program.
Life-skill classes are offered to the residents, and volunteers are needed year-round to provide their personal expertise, whether it be teaching them how to budget or how to "dress for success."
However a person can give, they're still giving. As Major Baso aptly stated, "Everything counts."
So, whether donating time, money or gifts, your local Salvation Army asks you to give of yourself, whatever you can, at any time of year.
It may be the season of the red kettle now, but as the Salvation Army saying goes, "Need Knows No Season."
For more information or to get involved, call the Kingsport Salvation Army at 423-723-6671 or visit them on Facebook at The Salvation Army – Kingsport, TN.